—New markers cover topics in the counties of Fairfax, Fauquier, Floyd, Loudoun (Leesburg), Louisa, Middlesex, Pittsylvania, and Pulaski (2); and the cities of Franklin, Lynchburg, and Petersburg—
[The full text for each marker is reproduced at the end of this release.]
RICHMOND – Among a dozen new historical markers approved for Virginia's roadways will be one about a stock car racer whose career took him from hauling moonshine in the Blue Ridge Mountains to becoming a NASCAR hall of famer; a sign denoting a circa-1800 stone milepost on a road to Lynchburg; two to highlight World War II-era ordnance production in the New River Valley; and signs for two African American churches in Northern Virginia.
Stock car racer Curtis Morton Turner will be commemorated with a sign in Floyd County, where Turner was born. He hauled moonshine, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and "is credited with 360 career wins both in and out of NASCAR," according to the sign's text. Curtis was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2016.
In Pittsylvania County at an intersection on Slatesville Road in the community of Keeling, the marker "Sign Rock" will rise to denote a rare surviving example of an early wayfinding stone post. Placed there around 1800, the stone marker refers to "Beaver's Tavern eight miles to the west and Lynch's Ferry" (Lynchburg) "60 miles to the north."
Home front mobilization during World War II will be the focus of two signs slated for Pulaski County near the town of Dublin. One marker will direct attention to the area's transformation from the founding of Radford Ordnance Works and the New River Ordnance Plant. The New River plant's construction drew more than 20,000 people from around the U.S., changing the area's economy and infrastructure, and resulting in more roads, schools, and commerce, as well as private and government-funded housing developments. A second marker will focus on the New River Ordnance Plant, established primarily for the bagging of propellant powder used for firing artillery shells during World War II. The plant shipped 144,000 tons of powder between 1941 and 1945.
In Northern Virginia, signs will cover the history of Woodlawn Methodist Church (Fairfax Co.) and Mt. Zion United Methodist Church (Loudoun Co.). Tracing its origins to 1766, Mt. Zion is recognized as the oldest continuing African American Methodist congregation in Virginia. Woodlawn Methodist Church originally arose after the Civil War in the area of George Washington's Mount Vernon estate known as Woodlawn, where a community arose settled by emancipated African Americans. Woodlawn's congregation had to later relocate the church to the historically black community of Gum Springs after the expansion of Fort Belvoir during World War II.
Four other markers emphasize African American history. Two will recognize early 20th-century schools purpose-built for non-white students during the era of segregation.
Shady Grove School in Louisa County, built with money and architectural plans from the Rosenwald fund, is a one-teacher school opened in 1925 for students in grades 1-7. The Julius Rosenwald Fund supported the construction of more than 5,000 schools and supporting structures for African American students in communities throughout the South between 1917 and 1932. Shady Grove School closed in 1962.
St. Clare Walker High School in Middlesex County will be commemorated with a marker. The school is named for John Henry St. Clare Walker who served as principal for two decades at the Rosenwald-supported Middlesex Training School, which opened in 1921.
The City of Franklin in Southampton County will see a sign for Pauline C. Morton, who began working in the Virginia Department of Education in 1947 during segregation. Morton oversaw home economics programs across southeastern Virginia and implementation of a federal school lunch program. She also helped to organize Franklin's NAACP chapter, among other achievements.
In Petersburg, a marker will rise for Lt. Col. Howard Baugh, a Tuskegee Airman who was deployed to Sicily during World War II. He flew 135 combat missions and is credited with 1.5 aerial victories. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, the French Legion of Honor, and the Congressional Medal of Honor, and was inducted into the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame. He died in 2008 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Other markers approved earlier this month include—
All these new markers were authorized by the Virginia Board of Historic Resources during its public quarterly meeting convened in December by the Department of Historic Resources.
The Virginia highway marker program, which began in 1927 with installation of the first historical markers along U.S. Rte. 1, is considered the oldest such program in the nation. Currently there are more than 2,500 official state markers, most of which are maintained by Virginia Department of Transportation, except in those localities outside of VDOT's authority.
The manufacturing cost of each new highway marker is covered by its sponsor.
More information about the Historical Highway Marker Program is available on the website of the Department of Historic Resources at https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/.
Full Text of Markers:
(Please note that some texts may be slightly modified before the manufacture and installation of the signs. Also locations proposed for each sign must be approved in consultation with VDOT or public works in jurisdictions outside VDOT authority.)
Pauline Cauthorne Morton (1912-2004)
Pauline C. Morton, civic leader, graduated from what is now Virginia State University in 1933. She began working for the Virginia Department of Education in 1947, during the segregation era. Before retiring in 1974, she supervised home economics education across southeastern Virginia and implemented the federal school lunch program in her region. Morton was Mid-Atlantic Regional Director of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the first Greek-letter organization for African American women. She helped organize the Franklin NAACP chapter in 1943, chaired the Franklin City Public School Board and the board of Paul D. Camp Community College, and served on more than 20 other civic committees.
Sponsor: Lambda Psi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Locality: City of Franklin
Proposed Location: North College Drive between Paul D. Camp Community College and Franklin Public Library
Sponsor Contact: Alfreda Talton-Harris, email@example.com
Lt. Col. Howard Baugh, Tuskegee Airman
Howard Baugh (1920-2008) was born and raised in Petersburg. He graduated from what is now Virginia State University in 1941, joined the U.S. Army Air Corps, and completed pilot training at Tuskegee Army Air Field in 1942. Deployed to Sicily with the 99th Fighter Squadron, Baugh flew 135 combat missions during World War II and was credited with 1.5 aerial victories. He later served as Director of Flying Training at Tuskegee. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, the French Legion of Honor, and the Congressional Gold Medal. A 2006 Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame inductee, he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
Sponsor: Howard Baugh Chapter, Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.
Proposed Location: corner of N. Sycamore (Alt 301) and Old Streets
Sponsor Contact: Richard Baugh, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mt. Zion United Methodist Church
Mt. Zion, recognized as the oldest continuing African American Methodist congregation in Virginia, traces its origins to the Old Stone Church, established in Leesburg in 1766. Black members of Old Stone Church, desiring their own church after the Civil War, purchased land here for $250 in 1867 and built Mt. Zion. The Rev. William O. Robey, who taught in schools for emancipated African Americans, led the congregation. From 1939 to 1968, Mt. Zion was part of the segregated Central Jurisdiction of the Methodist Church. Mt. Olive Church, established by African Americans in nearby Gleedsville in 1889, merged with Mt. Zion in 1984-1985.
Sponsor: William A. Olson
Proposed Location: 12 North Street NE
Sponsor Contact: Bill Olson, email@example.com
Shady Grove (Rosenwald) School
African Americans in this area organized a patrons' league and campaigned in the 1920s for a new school to replace the inadequate facility then in use. Shady Grove School, built on a standard one-teacher architectural plan, opened here in 1925 for students in grades 1-7. Funding for the building came from the African American community ($700), Louisa County ($400), and the Julius Rosenwald Fund ($400). The Rosenwald Fund, established by the president of Sears, Roebuck, and Co. and inspired by the work of Booker T. Washington, helped build more than 5,000 schools and supporting structures for African Americans in the rural South between 1917 and 1932. Shady Grove School closed in 1962.
Sponsor: Shady Grove (Rosenwald) School, Inc.
Locality: Louisa County
Proposed Location: 2924 Three Chopt Road, Gum Spring Sponsor
Contact: Taren Owens, firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Clare Walker High School
African American residents of Middlesex County established the Langston Training School (later the Middlesex Training School) in 1917 to serve elementary and high school students. The Rosenwald Fund supported construction of a new building ca. 1921. John Henry St. Clare Walker, principal for two decades, expanded the high school curriculum from two to four years despite inadequate funding. The high school moved here in 1939. Later renamed in Walker's honor, it was among the first rural high schools for black students to be accredited by the Virginia Department of Education. Students garnered awards for academics, athletics, and the arts. The county's school system was desegregated in 1969.
Sponsor: Middlesex County
Locality: Middlesex County
Proposed Location: 2911 General Puller Highway (US Route 33)
Sponsor Contact: Pete Gretz, email@example.com
Woodlawn Methodist Church
African Americans in Woodlawn, four miles southwest of here, established Woodlawn Methodist Episcopal Church ca. 1866. The Woodlawn area, formerly part of George Washington's Mount Vernon estate, was home to African Americans who had been free landowners before the Civil War, people recently emancipated from slavery, and northern Quakers who had arrived in the 1840s. The Methodist church, built on land purchased from Quakers, housed a Freedmen's Bureau school that became a public school by 1871. The congregation established a cemetery and in 1888 built a new sanctuary. When Fort Belvoir expanded during World War II, the church moved here to the historically black community of Gum Springs.
Sponsor: Board of Trustees of Woodlawn Faith United Methodist Church and Gum Springs Historical Society
Locality: Fairfax County
Proposed Location: 7730 Fordson Road
Sponsor Contact: Lawrence Wright, Lawrence_Wright@fanniemae.com
Birthplace of Curtis Morton Turner (1924-1970)
Curtis Turner, stock car racer, was born here and honed his driving skills hauling moonshine in these mountains. After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he became a pioneering NASCAR driver. He is credited with 360 career wins both in and out of NASCAR, including 38 of 79 starts in the NASCAR Convertible Division and 17 in NASCAR's premier series. Turner co-founded Charlotte Motor Speedway, was the first driver featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, operated a successful timber business, and piloted his own aircraft. He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1992 and the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2016.
Sponsor: Floyd County Historical Society
Proposed Location: 229 Smartsview Road
Sponsor Contact: Gerald Via, firstname.lastname@example.org
John Marshall's Leeds Manor Rural Historic District
This historic district encompasses about 22,200 acres of the Northern Neck Proprietary, a vast region granted by the exiled King Charles II to seven supporters in 1649 and later inherited by Thomas, 6th Lord Fairfax. The Manor of Leeds, an area of more than 160,000 acres, was laid out in 1736 for Fairfax's personal use, and much of the historic district lies within its boundaries. Also within the district is The Hollow, the childhood home of U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall, built in the 1760s. In 1806 a Fairfax heir sold the Manor of Leeds to Marshall, his brother James, and two other men. John Marshall later divided his portion of the land among his sons and visited frequently.
Sponsor: Citizens for Fauquier County
Locality: Fauquier County
Proposed Location: 3459 Carrington Road, Delaplane
Sponsor Contact: Susan Russell, email@example.com
Maj. Samuel Scott (1754-1822), a Revolutionary War officer, bought land here in 1786 and established Locust Thicket, one of several plantations he owned nearby. About 30 enslaved African Americans labored on his properties. The existing house was likely built in the 1830s. During the Battle of Lynchburg, 17-18 June 1864, Union cavalry under Brig. Gen. Alfred Duffié engaged Confederates under Brig. Gen. John McCausland near here, leaving the house scarred. Among those buried in the Locust Thicket cemetery are Maj. Samuel Scott and his wife, Ann, their son Beverly Roy Scott, who served in the War of 1812, a Union cavalryman killed during the Battle of Lynchburg, and a Confederate veteran.
Sponsor: Taylor-Wilson Camp #10, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Proposed Location: 2627 Old Forest Road Sponsor
Contact: Dr. Clifton W. Potter Jr., Potter.C@lynchburg.edu
New River Ordnance Plant
Just south of here stood the New River Ordnance Plant, or Dublin Bagging Plant, a World War II facility established primarily for the bagging of propellant powder used for firing artillery shells. Construction of the plant, designed and operated by the Hercules Powder Company, began in Feb. 1941 on nearly 4,000 acres of former farmland. Thousands of employees, many of them women, manufactured bags, loaded them with powder, waterproofed artillery propellants, and made cannon flash reducers. The plant shipped nearly 144,000 tons of powder before being declared surplus in 1945. Portions of the property were sold, while about 2,800 acres later became part of the Radford Army Ammunition Plant.
Sponsor: Pulaski County Board of Supervisors
Locality: Pulaski County
Proposed Location: State Route 1030 (Bagging Plant Road), 1.7 miles from intersection with SR 100, Dublin
Sponsor Contact: Nancy Burchett, firstname.lastname@example.org
World War II Home Front
The United States' mobilization for World War II brought dramatic changes to this region. The Radford Ordnance Works, nine miles northeast of here, and the New River Ordnance Plant, near here, opened in 1941. Construction employed more than 20,000 people from 45 states, and thousands of workers later operated the facilities. This population boom diversified the area's agricultural economy and transformed its infrastructure, bringing new roads, schools, retail and industrial establishments, and private and government-funded housing developments. Just north of here is the New River Ordnance Plant's staff village, a set of 15 houses built in support of the war effort.
Sponsor: Pulaski County Board of Supervisors
Locality: Pulaski County
Proposed Location: State Route 611 (Wilderness Road), near intersection with SR 1039 (Staff Village Road), Dublin
Sponsor Contact: Nancy Burchett, email@example.com
At this intersection lies a rare example of an early Virginia road marker. A Virginia statute of 1738 required that all crossroads be marked by a stone or wooden post inscribed with the name of the most noted place to which each of the adjoining roads led. This marker, which dates to the late 18th or early 19th century, refers to Beavers Tavern eight miles to the west and Lynch's Ferry, or the fledgling town of Lynchburg, 60 miles to the north. Of the fewer than 20 stone markers known to survive, most were erected in later years and refer to places only a short distance away. Stone and wooden markers ceased to be used early in the 20th century with the advent of standardized highway signs.
Locality: Pittsylvania County
Proposed Location: 8101 Slatesville Rd., Keeling
Sponsor Contact: Randy Lichtenberger, Randy.Lichtenberger@vdot.virginia.gov