A Survey of Early Virginia Road Stones: Sign Rocks, Milestones, and Related Objects

Report No: 09-R14

Published in 2009

About the report:

A Virginia law of 1738 required that all crossroads be marked by posts of directions.  Most of these signs were made of wood and have not survived.  But some roads in Virginia featured more permanent forms of markers: directional signs and mileposts made of stone.  This practice continued until the early 20th century, and a few late markers were rendered in concrete.  Use of these markers died out around the 1920s, when standardized highway signs began to appear. 

A few early stone highway markers still survive in their original locations.  Some stones were moved by well-intentioned individuals or groups attempting to preserve or protect the stones against real or perceived threats.  Other stones were moved by souvenir hunters or by people seeking building or landscaping stone.  Many more were lost because of intentional vandalism or simply because their significance was not recognized or appreciated. 

 Research carried out by the Virginia Transportation Research Council identified more than 40 early road stones and related cultural resources.  This report brings the survey data together in a single publication.  The information in this volume will provide readily accessible information on the general history of this resource type, as well as data on the extant early road stones, milestones, and related objects in Virginia.  Having this information available will benefit and facilitate cultural resource research relating to projects in the vicinity of these resources and will prevent project delays that might be caused by a lack of this information.  Virginia Department of Transportation personnel and consultants will save numerous hours by having the information at hand.  A very conservative estimate of the cost savings to the Virginia Department of Transportation in personnel time, avoided consultant costs, and avoided project delays is between $10,000 and $20,000 per year, or between $50,000 and $100,000 over a 5-year period. 

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.

Last updated: November 20, 2023

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