xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Letter: Time to overhaul Maryland’s historic markers roadside program | READER COMMENTARY

Historic roadside markers are an effective way to recognize and preserve history as it happens and as it transpired generations ago; providing a tangible and lasting record of our local and regional historic events and people who shaped our communities and lives. Maryland, like most every state, has a vast and diverse network of such markers on roadsides throughout the region, dating to the 1930s when the roadside marker program began with the Maryland State Roads Commission.

We commemorate the travels of our founding fathers, what they did and where they fought and where stayed, we celebrate the birthplaces of historic figures, causes and movements and we memorialize transformative events that shaped our character as a people and defined the history of our towns, our state and our country.

Advertisement

As with any program designed with good intentions and sound project planning, the passage of time has a way of chipping away at the efficacy of the intended results. In the early days of the roadside marker program, great attention and care was given to the placement, maintenance and upkeep of the markers. Unfortunately, though not a result of careless research, some of these markers have since been deemed inaccurate and need to be revised, moved or removed.

Many more are in need of care and reevaluation of placement due to inaccessibility.

Advertisement

Such is the case with a marker placed along Route 152 at the junction of Old Joppa Road in Harford County. Initially placed in the 1930s by the roads commission, the Harry Gilmor’s Raid marker has since been proven to be inaccurate. Documentation was provided to the Maryland Historic Trust well over a year ago and a commitment to remove it was made; it still stands today.

Like many government agencies and programs in recent years, Maryland’s roadside marker program has felt the pinch of tightened purse strings. New project lead times are years out and ancillary work such as maintenance and revision has been pushed down the priority ladder in many cases. With this in mind, an attempt was made to engage the Historic Trust to consider developing alternatives to reliance solely on state funding to include public options such as an “Adopt-a-Marker” program where fundraising can be accomplished locally and coordination directly with the state highways department regarding placement and maintenance can be accomplished unencumbered by a frustrating bureaucracy. This would afford local community groups, nonprofits and businesses the opportunity to be a contributing member in the overarching efforts to identify and preserve Maryland’s rich local and regional history; there is a wealth of untapped and long-forgotten history throughout the state that rarely makes it into the history books.

Providing citizens a tangible, visible record will help to ensure that the people and events that have shaped our lives and communities are not forgotten. I would like to call on the Maryland Historic Trust to openly engage in this line of thinking and work with the communities to enhance the roadside marker program rather than ignore and brush off efforts by those of us seeking to improve such programs that are of great value to all Marylanders.

LYLE GARITTY

Joppatowne

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement