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Historical Markers...new Subject To Hunt

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Has anyone noticed the old mile markers that were set up to keep track of mileage,in order to charge for postage? We in the northeast have several groups of these that are sometimes found on the sides of the older routes, between major cities. A good example runs between Boston and New York. This system was supposedly thought of by Benjamin Franklin and the markers are known as Franklin mile markers. I happen to live in an area where there's a fairly unbroken string of them and they've been a source of much interest to me. I've plotted them, using Terrain Navigator and my GPS. During a trip out into eastern NY, I was travelling on old Rt 9, which runs between NYC and points north. I started to notice old markers there also. So I'm wondering if there might be some interest in locating these and documenting their presence. And hopefully, if so, a gallery of their pictures would be great. Any interest here?

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These markers are generally made from sandstone and were placed near the edge of the road. Mileage was figured using some sort of a counter that would count turns of a wagon wheel. They would have probably been put in place between 1750 and 1800. I can access more info on the Boston Post Road and get a firmer date, but these old post roads were in many places through the northeast, not just from Boston to New York. I would believe that the main reason that benchmarkers are installed in or near post offices is that they are federal buildings.

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That may have something to do with Army Corps of Engineers as well.

Marking Post Miles.

Ft. (Posts) and Post Office?

For Military advantage as well.


Have never researched it.

I know the Old Wire Road which followed the Old Trails and later the Telegraph were also marked.

I just have never thought about it.

A Little when researching benchmarks labeled PTS1,2,etc.













Edited by GEO*Trailblazer 1
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OH this sounds SO CLOSE to my latest obsession, but not exactly, maybe... um.


Near some bridges on older VT state roads are 2-3' tall, 4" square concrete markers. Usually on each side of the bridge, on the same side as the direction of traffic, but with the lettering facing oncoming traffic. (Has made it difficult to figure the wording on drive-by studies). They're stamped with the route number (often different from today's), some criptic details I'm trying to work out in conjuction with Placques I've been studying on bridges, and a range of dates from 1954 to 1972.


When I first read your entry, I thought you were talking about the same, but I was so psyched to read someone else studying the peculiar roadside minutia that I thought wrong.


So anyway, Yes, I agree. This old (and older) markers are fun to document, and like I side, try to figure out a pattern to their data. All this before the plow trucks and salt destroy them all. Thank for raising the subject!


VT GeoStomper

Edited by VT ARL 784
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Boston Post Road info page This link will describe the routes through Massachusetts. I live near the Upper Road and have several succesive markers nearby. Some are lost or have been moved and with the aid of descriptions and mapping software with a GPS, it would be historically important to try to document the original positions. It would also be important to document the stones that are findable. Massachusetts isn't the only area to have such markers though. And I think, with enough interest, other historical markers could be included. These are items that can be misplaced or destroyed or stolen, much like other markers.
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Rather interesting site Tubeman, I went to School @ New England Institute of Technology in Warwick RI on Post Rd., just down the street from TF Green airport.


Here on Cape Cod, we have old markers made of granite along the old carriage trail from Boston to Provincetown. There are on Rt 6A, they also denote the town borders. The Yarmouth / Dennis marker is across the street from a Benchmark ( a rather boring pin in a rock). The Yarmouth / Barnstable mark is next to the state sign for towns. I have to get off my *ss and finish the BMs along 6A in Yarmouth Port this summer. Some are steeples of some really cool looking old NE style churches,

Yarmouth Port is half way between Boston and Provincetown, 70 miles each way. Exit 7 off rt. 6 is 70 miles to Boston, Providence and Provincetown.



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Yes, I've also noticed granite markers in my neck of the woods. They seem to indicate where a town boundary line either needs to make a change of direction or where one crosses a public road. Franklin style mile markers could possibly be found on the side of most any of the very old roads that are known as Post Roads. The roads between Boston and New York are fairly well known. I was hoping to stimulate enough interest here to get people that live near these roads to search for markers in their vicinity. I'm also hoping to get others looking for Post Roads that may have stone mile markers. These roads can sometimes be numbered and, in this case, will have low numbers. In other cases, the roads may not be marked or even used any more. One of the Franklin markers near my location was either buried or taken when the Massachusetts Turnpike was built, during the early 50's. These are historically interesting items and they're sometimes disturbed or broken or stolen.

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I've seen similar markings along U.S. 50 between Placerville, CA and S. Lake Tahoe, NV. The are on most maps also, shown as "Mile Stones" showing mileage east of Placerville, probably from when it was a stagecoach trail. They are square stone posts about 6" square and 2 feet tall. This stretch of road was also the Pony Express Trail.

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See...that's exactly what I meant. Yeah, it's not exactly a Franklin marker, but it's the western equivalent. Now if I could get those in some other areas to keep their eyes open and if somehow there was a place to log these on here, it would be great. Nice to keep in touch with your local history. Thanks Mike.

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Hi everyone, this is my first post as I'm a new member. I found this forum doing a search with Goggle looking for milestones.


I'm relieved that I found someone else that has an interest in milestones [i ran and told my wife right away, she thinking me nuts all these years]. I've been searching for and researching milestones [and also old roads] for 20-25 years in the southeastern New England area and have found 100+ of them.


I have field notes and pictures of many [almost all work was pre-GPS] but haven't compiled or documented any of it, and I've always wondered what would happen to all my work should I get run over by a truck someday...


I also figured out that I could never in a lifetime find all of the ones that exist in just eastern Massachusetts by myself, never mind a larger geographical area. I would estimate that in the US, that there are many thousands [10k+?] milestones.


I know nothing about Benchmark Hunting but surmise that people do that for the same reason I search for milestones. What I can tell you is, that for many reasons, milestones are much harder to find then you might think.


It's Summer now [with lots to do] but maybe later this year and if others are interested, I could share what I've found and describe what I've learned about how to find them.


So what's the interest?

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While Franklin was Postmaster [off and on between 1753 and the start of the revolution] he laid thousands of miles of post roads all up and down the colonies and into Canada and ordered them marked them with milestones. These stones were pretty consistent in shape and content. Every one that I've seen has been sandstone and they haven't weathered well. Many of those old post roads were upgraded over time and quite a few of those stones have gone missing during that construction [at least in the northeast].


Many other colonial roads [especially the "King's Highways" going from major city to major city] were marked with milestones and these run the gamut. Often they were just the closest, tallest rock with the directions and mileage hand-chiseled into them [and often the name or initials of the person setting the stone]. There is no conformity whatsoever to these types of stones and they are the hardest to find [you have to find the road first...]. These old roads also have all kinds of other ancient markers on them [directions, boundaries, "half-way" indicators, survey, etc.] and most of these are in surprisingly good condition [with some going on 300 years now].


The turnpike companies [active from the 1790's until the railroads killed them off] marked their roads with stones and these were pretty consistent in shape and content most of the time [but unique to each company - and there were 100's of turnpikes].


When the automobile came along, and before the numbered highway system, there were "Named Roads" and many of these were marked with milestones and directions by the organizations that named and promoted the road, like the Lincoln Highway, the Yellowstone Trail, the Mohawk Trail and some of these were coast-to-coast trails. There were several hundred "Named Roads".


I do have lots of pictures, but many were taken before digital cameras so I'll have to scan some examples. But first, I'll have to find them as I recently moved and haven't unpacked everything yet. Give me a few weeks.


PS Tubeman, I like your photo - do you always wear a lab coat?

Edited by milemarker
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This is just the kind of thing that I find fascinating. Digging up the past sorta. Some of the old roads and markers are gone or lost or forgotten. Exploring for these becomes a rediscovery of some valuable history. I wish there was a place to be able to post pics of some of these finds. I've been trying to keep an eye open, while travelling the older roads in New England and New York. I would have to believe that New Jersey and Pennsylvania would have their share also.

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I'm wondering if there's some place that we can post pics of markers that aren't logged. It seems that the more I travel on the older routes, the more interesting stuff I see. While crossing state lines, I noticed an interesting marker. In this neck o' the woods, it's common to find town boundary markers... usually granite posts... where the line crosses a road. This one looked different. Didn't have my camera and didn't have a chance to stop though. I think it would be neat to be able to post items like these and the odd mile markers. What do you have to do to get someone's attention around here? And sorry guys... it's not Al and it's not Rob... it's Enrico Fermi.

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Well, I guess I could set up a site to store these, even if only on a temp basis until a better repository is found.


I currently maintain a couple of web sites and have the tools and know-how.


We could use the Benchmark Log page as a starting point and adjust the content/layout for these types of markers.


But I don't want to do all this work unless more then a couple of people are interested - how many people are really interested?


Can we hear from you?

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