Sunday, February 27, 2011

Little Fork Church

Little Fork Church marker G-9 (Click to Enlarge)Culpeper County, VA

Marker No. G-9

Marker Text: One-half mile east stands Little Fork Episcopal Church, begun 1753, destroyed by fire in 1773. Present structure completed in 1776.

Location: On Route 229, 6 miles south of Route 211, southwest of Warrenton, VA, same side of road near intersection with Route 726 (Little Fork Church Road) and opposite intersection with State Route 611 (Waterford Road). Erected by the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission in 1967. The church itself is located about 0.4 miles east on Little Fork Church Road.

Little Fork Church Historic Places Plaque  Sunday morning, so it is time for another church, an Episcopal church in Virginia. Little Fork Church is the only Colonial church in Culpeper County, VA and one of the few colonial churches to survive in northern Piedmont Virginia, however, it was never a parish church. Created in 1731 as a "chapel of ease" for the St. Mark's Parish within the Little Fork between the Rappahannock and Hazel Rivers by order of Governor Spotswood.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Battle of Scary

BattleOfScaryPutnam County, WV

Marker Text: First Confederate victory in Kanawha Valley fought here July 17, 1861. Charge of the Rangers under Captain (later General) Jenkins won the day. Whitelaw Reid described the event as a war correspondent with Gen. Cox's Union forces.

Location: On WV Route 35, 0.1 miles south of County Route 33 (Teays Valley Road), 2.7 miles north of U.S. Route 60, and 0.6 miles south of Exit 44, (St. Albans) Interstate 64.  Erected by the West Virginia Department of Archives and History in 1974.

  I recently read an article about a court case in Virginia involving Walmart wanting to build a new store close to the Battle of the Wilderness. The court ruled against Walmart siding with the interests to protect the battlefield. There has been many efforts to preserve what is left of Civil War battlefields and other historic sites. This article reminded me of this marker for the Battle of Scary in West Virginia north of Huntington, WV. About all that remains as a remembrance of this battle is this marker and the creek the battle is named. It is possible this marker may no longer be there, because when I took the photo there were lines next to the marker indicating that the area around the marker was to be excavated soon. Unfortunately, when work occurs around some markers they are removed and never reinstalled.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Birthplace of Sam Houston

Birthplace of Sam Houston Marker A-52 (Click to Enlarge)Rockbridge County, VA

Marker No. A-52

Marker Text: In a cabin on the hilltop to the east Sam Houston was born, March 2, 1793. As commander-in-chief of the Texas army, he won the battle of San Jacinto, which secured Texan independence, April 21, 1836. He was President of Texas, 1836-1838, 1841-1844; United States Senator, 1846-1859; Governor, 1860-1861. He died, July, 1863.

Location: On U.S. Route 11, 5.3 miles north of Lexington at Sam Houston Wayside, the Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church is located behind the wayside. When traveling north on Route 11 the wayside is the on the right, past the underpass for Interstate 81/64, exit 195. Erected by the Conservation & Development Commission in 1929.

Stone Marker Birthplace of Sam Houston (Click to Enlarge)  Until I came across this marker, I did not know that Sam Houston had been born in Virginia.  I have discovered many individuals were born in Virginia then later went on to achieve fame in other parts of the country.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ira D. Sankey

Ira D. Sankey marker in Edinburg, PA (Click to Enlarge)Lawrence County, PA

Marker Text: Famous singing evangelist, fellow-worker with Dwight L. Moody in Europe and America, was born Aug. 28, 1840, at Edinburg, in a house since removed. He died in Brooklyn, New York, on Aug. 13, 1908.

Location: On PA Route 551 in front of the post office, Edinburg, PA. Erected by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 1948.

  Ira David Sankey is a name quite well known in New Castle, PA. His name is connected to several organizations and his name appears on the youth center for the City Rescue Mission. Sankey was an American gospel singer and composer, associated with evangelist Dwight L. Moody. Ira D. Sankey was born on August 28, 1840 in Edinburg which is a community west of New Castle in Lawrence County where this marker is located.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Buffalo Creek Disaster

Buffalo Creek Disaster Marker in Man, WVLogan County, WV

Marker Text: One of worst floods in US occurred here 26 February 1972, when Buffalo Mining Co. impoundment dam for mine waste broke, releasing over 130 million gallons of black waste water: killed 125; property losses over $50 million; and thousands left homeless. Three commissions placed blame on ignored safety practices. Led to 1973 Dam Control Act and $13.5 million class action legal settlement in 1974.

Location: County Route 16, Man, 1/2 mile from junction with Old West Virginia 10. Erected by the WV Celebration 2000, West Virginia Division of Archives and History in 2005.

   This year is the 39th anniversary of the Buffalo Creek Disaster in Logan County, WV which occurred on February 26th. I was in college when this disaster happened and I remember hearing the news accounts on television. At the time I was completely unaware of where Logan County, WV was or any knowledge of the terrain where this disaster occurred. Thirty years later I lived in Logan County for several years and heard stories of this disaster from residents. Interestingly, I meet individuals who had lost spouses, family and friends in this disaster and I did not know it, until someone else told me. The affected individuals seldom discussed the impact this disaster had on their lives. I came across this video about the Buffalo Creek disaster which shows how the hollow looks today set to music about the impact of the disaster.

Seven Minute Video with Song and Photos about the Buffalo Creek Disaster.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Brashear House

Brashear House Marker Brownsville, PAFayette County, PA

Marker Text: John A. Brashear, astronomer, educator, was born here 1840. His grandfather kept the Brashear House, a leading tavern. In 1825 Lafayette spoke from its doorway to the people of Brownsville.

Location: At the corner of 6th and Union Streets (on old U.S. Route 40), Brownsville, PA.  Erected by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 1946.

"We have loved the stars too fondly
to be fearful of the night."

Brashear House Marker in Front of House  On a warm night I like to sit on my back deck and look at the night sky and watch the stars and the large planes flying to and from Dulles Airport. Last night was unusually warm for February and there was a full moon with a clear sky. While looking at the stars, I thought of the above saying and this marker. These words are written on a plaque at the Allegheny Observatory in Pittsburgh, PA below the Keeler Telescope where the interred ashes of John Brashear and his wife are located. The words are a paraphrase of the last line of the poem by Sarah Williams, “The Old Astronomer to His Pupil.”

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pikeville Collegiate Institute

Pikeville Collegiate Institute, Pike Co. KY MarkerPike County, KY

Marker Number: 1533

Marker Text: Established by the Presbyterian Church. Building erected, 1889. The brick was fired on the site, using clay from nearby riverbank. Structure served as school, chapel, and community center for many years. Designated on National Register, 1974; used since then as the Center for Local Arts and History. Oldest surviving school building in Pike County, 1975.

Location: At 118 College Street at Kilgore Lane, Pikeville, KY. In front of the Pikeville City Hall. Erected by the Kentucky Historical Society and the Department of Transportation in 1975.

  Many U.S. colleges had their beginnings during the 19th and early 20th century. As the U.S. expanded over a wider territory, many individuals became concerned about education in isolated areas, such as, the Appalachian mountains. Many different Christian denominations were concerned about the education of the children. During this period Presbyterian pastors were instrumental in starting different schools throughout the U.S. with the generous donations of other Presbyterians who supported these expressions of ministry in education. The historical marker about the “Pikeville Collegiate Institute” or also called “Pikeville College Institute or Academy” in Pikeville, KY tells the story of these efforts, which lead to the development of Pikeville College.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Providence Church

Providence Church Marker V-19  (Click to Enlarge)Louisa County, VA

Marker No. V-19

Marker Text: Half a mile northeast stands Providence Presbyterian church, built probably in 1749 and little altered since. John Todd, Senior, a founder of Hampden-Sydney College, was pastor for forty years (1753-1793). Hanover Presbytery met there in October, 1762.

Location: On Broad Street, Route 250, 0.4 miles northwest of Gum Spring, VA and the intersection with VA Route 522, on the right when traveling west. Marker is about 0.3 miles from the church which located at 3388 Three Chopt Road. Erected by the Virginia Conservation Commission in 1947.

Providence Presbyterian Church Building 1749  My last post concerned a Lutheran log church in Pennsylvania, so today I thought I would post a Presbyterian church in Virginia, which is a rare example of a 18th century wood frame church. This simple structure stands amid oak and pine, much as it did 250 years ago when Indians roamed the Virginia forests and a group of Presbyterians met to read and study the Bible.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Old Log Church

Old Log Church Marker, Bedford Co., PABedford County, PA

Marker Text: On land granted by John Schell for the purpose of erecting a union church, construction of this primitive log church building was begun in 1806 by the Reformed and Lutheran Congregations of this area.

Location: On the Lincoln Highway (U.S. Route 30), near Cemetery Road, just West of Schellsburg, PA. Erected by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 1974.

Old Log Church, Church in far background (Click to Enlarge)  I have taken many photos of old churches and their related historical markers. Many of the surviving church buildings were constructed in flemish bond brick or other brick structures and only a few were wooden frame. In looking at the history of many churches, you discover that they frequently began as log churches and most were replaced by brick structures over time. A few of these original log churches do exist, such as this one outside of Schellsburg, PA, which celebrated their 200th anniversary in 2006.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Margaret Cochran Corbin

Margaret Cochran Corbin Marker (Click to Enlarge)Franklin County, PA

Marker Text: Heroine of the Revolution; born Nov. 12, 1751, near Rocky Spring, 1½ miles to NW. Accompanied her husband to war. Manned a cannon, Fort Washington, N.Y., Nov. 16, 1776, when he was killed. She was wounded, pensioned, and assigned to Invalid Regt. Died Jan. 16, 1800; buried at West Point, N.Y.

Location: On U.S. Route 11 near Roand Ave., 1.5 miles North of Chambersburg, PA. Erected by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 1961.

  Several years ago when I started to make a point of stopping and reading historical road markers, I was often amazed by the discovery of history contained within these markers that seemed so unnoticed by the rest of the world driving past each day. I came across this marker about Margaret Cochran Corbin one day in Chambersburg, PA while I was looking for some other markers and was pleasantly surprised by what I discovered about this woman of the American Revolutionary period.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Stuart Marker E-8Spotsylvania County, VA
Marker No. E-8

Marker Text: At this point J. E. B. Stuart had his headquarters and cavalry camp in December 1862.

Location: On U.S. Route 1 (Jefferson Davis Highway), north of I-95 exit 126, 0.1 miles south of Lafayette Boulevard, 5.4 miles south of Falmouth. Grouped with marker E-39 (Start of Sheridan's Raid). Erected by the Conservation Development Commission in 1927.

Stuart Marker looking south on Route 1  Following the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862, the Union Army of the Potomac withdrew back across the Rappahannock River to make winter camp. Confederate generals established their winter headquarters and camps in the area around Fredericksburg. On December 26-27, Confederate Major General J. E. B. Stuart and his cavalry division carried out the last in a series of four raids that took them as far as Fairfax and Warrenton. Stuart spent the following two months at his headquarters near this location, making new friends and new enemies among officers who praised, envied, or despised each other. The man most captivated with the chief of cavalry was Lt. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, the Second Corps commander and Stuart’s superior.

  As I had mentioned in my post about the Monticello marker on Feb. 4, the historical road markers themselves are becoming apart of our historical landscape. Virginia’s historical marker program is the oldest state-sponsored marker system in the U.S. One of the earliest markers in the program is the marker titled, “Stuart” erected in 1927. As U.S. Highways were improving for automobile travel, more people were taking to the roads for vacations and business travel. Virginia being a state rich in history particularly as it related to the American Revolution and the Civil War wanted to attract visitors to the state by showcasing their unique position in history. Most of the early markers concentrated on these two historical events.

Stuart marker looking north on Route 1  Stuart marker is grouped with Marker E-39 (Start of Sheridan’s Raid)  Stuart marker in background, looking north on Route 1 on the left.

  In 1922, the Virginia General Assembly passed an act to create a board “to place suitable monuments or markers on, at, or in places of historical interest in the Commonwealth.” The program began in reality after the general assembly created the Conservation and Economic Development Commission in 1926. Markers were placed along major roads to reach the largest number of travelers. The first historical markers in the program were erected on U.S. Route 1 between Fredericksburg and Richmond with this marker being one of the first.

  The “Stuart” marker is located on U.S. Route 1 south of Fredericksburg, just north of I-95 exit 126. The original plan was for each marker to have an assigned letter and number code, which continues today. But, as can be seen in the “Stuart” marker it is different than other markers, even markers of the same year. The marker has the official designation of E-8, but the marker only has “No 8” on its face. Also the name of the “Conservation and Economic Development Commission” was abbreviated leaving out the word “Economic” and the year 1927 were both listed on top within the triangle. Later markers have the name of the commission and the year at the bottom of the marker.

Capture of Front Royal Marker J-8  For example, the marker titled “Capture of Front Royal” J-8 in Warren County, VA erected in 1927. Though erected the same year, but the number on the marker is 8-J, with the addition of the letter and the letter and number are reversed from later markers. Apparently at some later time an additional sign below was added giving the number in the current configuration for markers, J-8. A detailed description of the number system for Virginia Historical markers can be found at Historical Markers Database.

  Many of these earlier markers have vanished. Many were damaged over the years and replaced, most were replaced with markers with expanded, smaller text. Early markers had shorter, larger text in order to make it easier to read the marker, though this did not work out as well as expected in the beginning. By 1934, twelve hundred markers were in place and pull-offs were created to permit motorists to stop and read the texts on the markers.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Meem's Bottom Covered Bridge

Meem's Bottom Covered Bridge MarkerShenandoah County, VA

Marker No. AB-1

Marker Text: Built in 1892 by Franklin Hiser Wissler to provide access to his apple orchards at Strathmore Farms, this is the longest remaining covered bridge in Virginia. A 200-foot single span located one-half mile northwest, the bridge is a Burr Truss design, a combination of arch with vertical and diagonal supports. All construction materials were obtained locally. Damaged by arsonists in 1976, the bridge was restored and reopened in 1979.

Location: On U.S. Route 11, (Old Valley Pike) 0.2 miles south of Route 720 (Wissler Road), south of Mount Jackson. Erected by the Department of Historic Resources in 1989.

Meem's Bottom Covered Bridge Marker on Route 11  When you come across a marker which tells us about an historical bridge, that bridge is often about a covered bridge. The Meem's Bottom Covered Bridge is the longest timber covered bridge remaining in Virginia and the only one bearing vehicular traffic on the state system.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Monticello Marker W-200 Close-upAlbemarle County, VA

Marker No. W-200

Marker Text: Three miles to the southeast. Thomas Jefferson began the house in 1770 and finished it in 1802. He brought his bride to it in 1772. Lafayette visited it in 1825. Jefferson spent his last years there and died there, July 4, 1826. His tomb is there. The place was raided by British cavalry, June 4, 1781

Location: At the corner of E. Jefferson and Park Streets, in front of the Albemarle Co. Courthouse in Charlottesville, VA. Erected by the Conservation & Development Commission in 1928.

"I am as happy no where else and in no other society, and all my wishes end, where I hope my days will end, at Monticello. Too many scenes of happiness mingle themselves with all the recollections of my native woods and fields, to suffer them to be supplanted in my affection by any other." (In a Jefferson letter to George Gilmer, August 12, 1787 and this quote appears inside the terminal of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport.)