On the side of many roads in the state of Pennsylvania you may see a blue marker highlighting an interesting or important fact about the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. These markers are part of the Historical Marker Program which has been operating in some form since 1914 throughout the state.
The Historical Marker Program started under the Pennsylvania Historical Commission in 1914, the precursor to the Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission (PHMC) operating today. The main goal of the program is “to capture the memory of people, places, and events that have affected the lives of Pennsylvanians over the centuries since William Penn founded his Commonwealth.” The very first marker installed by the PHMC, dedicated in September 1946, commemorated the location of the earliest decree for independence in the state on Rt. 22, just 14 miles east of Harrisburg.
Currently, there are more than 2,000 markers dotting the landscape of Pennsylvania with new ones being approved each year. The PHMC accepts nominations each year from any individual or group who believes they have an appropriate person, place, or event to be commemorated. Nominations are reviewed by an independent counsel and approved each year. To be considered, nomination forms must be completed and post marked by January 5th of each year. In 2010, nineteen historical markers were approved, including the birthplace of NFL Films (Philadelphia), John William Heisman (Crawford), PA’s Largest Arrest for Civil War Draft Opposition (Columbia), and Westinghouse Atom Smasher (Allegheny).
When out and about in Harrisburg, look for the historical markers around town, including:
• Abraham Lincoln on South Market Street
• C. DeLores Tucker on North Street between 3rd and Commonwealth Avenues
• Camp Curtain in the park at 6th and Woodbine Street
• Pennsylvania Governor’s Executive Mansion at 101 South 2nd Street
For more information on where to find an application and the rules for submitting an application visit the PHMC’s Historical Marker Program website.