'History on a stick’ signs disappearing too fast to keep upHistorians in the News
tags: climate change, public history
Hurricanes, thievery and wrecks are taking out North Carolina’s popular historical highway markers faster than the state can keep up.
More than 1,600 of the markers known as “history on a stick” stand along state roads, telling the stories of people and places that shaped the past. Each of state’s 100 counties has at least one of the silver-and-black signs .
Now, five historical markers are missing, and a sixth that had been missing may be damaged beyond repair, said Ansley Herring Wegner, administrator for the program.
The markers that typically contain about 30 words are popular with the public, and Wegner often gets calls from people seeking more information or — especially in this era — inquiring why a marker doesn’t mention a historical figure’s white supremacist past.
“I think of the markers as museum labels on the landscape,” she said. “It’s how we remember what has happened in our state’s history and also tie it to a location.”
When she took her job in 2014, Wegner began keeping a database of missing markers and found some that had disappeared in the 1980s. Replacing history comes at a cost — $1,790 for each marker made by Sewah Studios in Marietta, Ohio. The annual budget for new markers, repairs and replacements is $60,000, Wegner said.
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