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July 30, 2008

From time immemorial ...

Some of my favorite things in the whole wide world are roadside historical markers. If we are ever on a road trip and I see a marker my wife will immediately start saying to me "No, no, no Shane ... just keep on driving." Sometimes I do keep on driving and sometimes I don't.

As you might imagine, the University of Minnesota has a few historical markers. One of my favorites is right in front of the Weisman Art Museum along the banks of the Mississippi. I never see anyone reading it, and gosh darn it, it is pretty interesting! So, I have decided to take it upon myself to document it for all of you. The marker is attached to a huge rock and it looks like this:


It says:


From time immemorial, Indians, traders, explorers, among whom were Hennepin and Carver, have used the Mississippi River as the highway of travel unloading their canoes at the bend just below here. They plodded up the portage trail across what is now the University campus, and along the bluffs to a point about a half mile above the Falls of St. Anthony.

This tablet erected by the Minnesota Society Daughters of the American Colonists 1933.

That is kind of interesting, is it not? One of the many hare-brained ideas I have rattling around my head is to create a national database of all the historical markers that can be documented. It would be easy to create a database and allow anyone to add a picture, a transcription, and location data about historical markers in their area. People could also tag the markers or even add some commentary. And with the location data a Google Maps application could be created to show the locations and concentration of markers across the country.

Wouldn't that be interesting? Useful even, perhaps? I can imagine the database would get pretty big. There has got to be tens of thousands of markers in the United States.

Some day, I will realize my dream. Some day.

Posted by snackeru at July 30, 2008 10:56 PM


I guess it's in the genes--your grandfather could never pass by a historical marker either!

Posted by: mom at July 31, 2008 7:07 AM

Your database idea is truly a great one. It would be an useful application with Google maps, and I think people would be interested. Just the latest of your great ideas.

Curt in Grand Forks

Posted by: Curt Hanson at July 31, 2008 7:14 PM

Isn't the point of hysterical markers to point out something of interest? All this says is: people got out of the river here. Hell, with this criteria you could put one of these on the Apple River:

"From time immemorial, Indians, traders, explorers, young adults and college students, have used the Apple River as the highway of travel unloading their canoes and later innertubes full of alcohol at the bend just below here. They stumbled up the trail across what is now the beach, and along the hill to where men could launch buffalo chips and later water balloons and women would expose themselves at other river travellers

This tablet erected by the PHI BETA GAMMA Fraternity in 2008."

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at August 4, 2008 11:01 AM

Quite a number of years ago, now, there was a book published called "South Dakota Historical Markers", which basically told you where all the South Dakota historical markers are and what they say. I take it this is something you're dreaming of doing on a national scale. If you ever get serious about it, that should be about 1/50th of your work already done.

Posted by: Jeff A at August 11, 2008 3:24 PM

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