The Virginia historical highway marker program documents facts, persons, events, and places prominently identified with the history of the nation, state, or region. DHR’s purpose in erecting markers is to educate the public about Virginia’s history, not to honor, memorialize, or commemorate persons, events, or places. Because highway markers are not honorific in nature, they do not serve the same purpose as monuments, statues, memorial plaques, or war memorials.
With their texts of black lettering against a silver background and their distinctive shape, Virginia’s state historical highway markers are hard to miss along the commonwealth’s roadways. There are now more than 2,500 of them erected in Virginia to highlight people, places, or events of regional, statewide, or national significance.
Virginia’s historical marker program is the oldest such program in the nation, beginning in 1927 when a handful of markers were erected along U.S. 1 between Richmond and Mount Vernon. Originally the Conservation and Economic Development Commission was tasked with creating historical markers. In 1949, the Virginia Department of Highways was assigned the responsibility for installing and maintaining new markers, and in 1950 the Virginia State Library took over researching and approving new makers.
In 1966, management of the highway markers was transferred to the newly created Virginia Landmarks Commission, the predecessor agency of the Department of Historic Resources. Today VDOT retains primary responsibility for installing new markers and maintaining existing ones. In this capacity, VDOT is a vital partner with DHR in managing the marker program.
See the links above for detailed information about various aspects of the marker program including how to sponsor a new marker or search our database for the location and text of a marker.
If you wish to report a missing or damaged marker, please contact Jennifer R. Loux. When doing so, if at all possible, it is helpful to provide the name of the marker, the location, and when you first noticed the marker was missing or damaged.
If you have questions or need additional information, contact Jennifer R. Loux (804) 482-6089.
Please note: Removal of historical highway markers, which are property of the commonwealth, must be approved in advance by the Virginia Board of Historic Resources. Unauthorized removal or causing damage to historical highway markers is a Class 6 felony per the Code of Virginia § 18.2-137.
Updated July 8, 2020