north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program


About the Program ...

In 1935 the North Carolina General Assembly authorized the establishment of the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program (Public Laws, Chapter 197). From that time forward, the program has been administered as a cooperative venture among state agencies. It is presently the joint responsibility of the Historical Research Office, Division of Historical Resources, Department of Cultural Resources, and the Traffic Engineering Branch, Division of Highways, Department of Transportation. The North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program is one of the oldest such programs in continuous operation in the United States.

Prior to 1935 the North Carolina Historical Commission, which had been established in 1903, and private organizations (such as the Daughters of the American Revolution) sponsored a small number of historical markers and plaques. The state program, modeled after one begun in Virginia in 1926, was an effort to standardize the practice of marking sites of statewide historical significance. The silver and black markers have become a familiar part of the state's landscape since the first one was put in place in Granville County on January 10, 1936. Over 1,500 state highway historical markers have been erected. At least one stands in every county.

For young people, the markers may spark a curiosity that leads to further study of and appreciation for the historical development of the region. For visitors the signs may be their only exposure to the history of the Tar Heel State. For residents the presence of a state marker in their community can be a source of pride, a signal that an event of historical significance took place close to home. The Department of Cultural Resources and the Department of Transportation remain committed to the program as it moves toward its centennial.



north carolina highway historical marker program
first marker dedication
The first marker erected under the program (above) was dedicated alongside U.S. 15 in Stovall, Granville County, in 1936. (Marker District G)

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources