Maryland Roadside
Historical Markers

Maryland has been installing cast metal Historical Markers along state roads signs since 1930. The popularity of the automobile, along with a renewed interest in history during the early 20th century, stimulated state agencies to form partnerships to fund a marker program. Today, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), in partnership with the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT), reviews marker applications while the MDOT State Highway Administration (SHA) funds, installs, and maintains the markers along state roads and property. Applications for new markers are solicited from the public twice a year, and up to ten new markers are fabricated and installed by MDOT SHA throughout the year.

History of the Maryland Roadside Historical Marker Program

Maryland Roadside Historical Markers include a pole mounted, cast metal shield painted silver with black lettering across the shield body, and the Great Seal of Maryland in color at the top. Although this design is the original standard, some early markers incorporated other elements into their designs. The earliest markers were installed in 1930 and 1931 by the Historical Society of Harford County under the leadership of J. Alexis Shriver. The first marker commemorated Jerusalem Mills, northeast of Kingsville.

Coinciding with the beginning of the Historical Marker program, was the commemoration of the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth in 1932. Maryland’s General Assembly supported a George Washington Bi-Centennial Commission, and commemorative activities were coordinated with federal programs. Maryland participated in the celebration with the installation of Historical Markers along some of the state routes that Washington travelled. Concurrently, other Maryland groups embarked on similar initiatives. The Daughters of the American Revolution sponsored markers along General’s Highway, the route General Washington took from New York to Annapolis to resign from his position of Commander in Chief of the first American army in 1783.

In 1933, MDOT SHA, then the Maryland State Roads Commission, established a formal, statewide Roadside Historical Marker program. It included assistance from the Maryland Historical Society (MHS), a private non-profit. This partnership continued until 1985 when the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) managed the program with assistance and funding from MDOT SHA. In 2001 the program was modified with revisions to standards, criteria, and location guidelines. Today, the program is managed and funded by MDOT with MHT review.

Approximately 800 Historical Markers have been installed since 1930, and around 780 remain today. Public interest in the program has never waned, and the flow of marker applications remains steady.

Find a Maryland Historical Marker

Click the button below to access the Maryland Roadside Historical Marker searchable map.

Search Our Maryland Historical Marker Interactive Map

Submit an Application

Maryland Roadside Historical Markers are located on a state-owned property and cannot be placed on private, county, or other municipal land. Most locations are within the Maryland state road rights of way to facilitate marker maintenance. The marker nominator should provide a preferred location of the marker; however, the final location will be determined by MDOT SHA for safety reasons. After the narrative has been agreed upon by the marker nominator, MDOT, and MHT, the review process, fabrication, and installation of the markers may take up 6 months. Please notify MDOT if you would like to hold an unveiling event associated your marker. They can time the installation for your event and provide a cover for the marker.

Application Process

The Maryland Roadside Historical Marker application deadlines are January 1st and July 1st. Up to five markers will be selected during each cycle. To propose a new Historical Marker, the nominator must submit the marker application before the deadline, or it will be considered for the following cycle. The nominator must complete an online application that will be reviewed by MDOT who will coordinate with the MHT. If selected, the MDOT staff will contact the nominator and work with them to finalize the 70-word text for the sign and coordinate any commemorative event. Applications can be prepared by private individuals, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, or businesses. Each applicant is responsible for all required documentation. An applicant does not have to be a state resident.

Evaluation Criteria

The Maryland Roadside Historical Marker program is reserved for places, people, and events that hold state-wide significance that can be tied to the national stage. The commemorated subject must be an influential person, place, thing, trend, or event that occurred within the state. A subject can be considered to have statewide significance if it satisfies the same criteria used when evaluating sites or resources for historical significance. This standard guides agency decision making and is designed to consider a broad range of resource characteristics and to recognize the accomplishments of all people that contribute to state history and heritage.

Significant resources associated with Maryland history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture, should be at least 50 years or older, and must be associated with one or more of the following:

  • Events that have contributed to broad patterns of history; or
  • Persons who were significant to our past; or
  • Built resources that embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values; or
  • other resources that have yielded, or that may yield information important to the understanding of history (this category often pertains to archaeological sites).
  • Traditionally disenfranchised individuals or communities.
  • Although applicants may nominate any person, place, or event for a Historical Marker, MDOT encourages submissions on underrepresented historic events, unique places, and diverse people and communities.

Evaluation Criteria Exceptions

Generally, cemeteries, religious institutions, moved buildings or structures, recently reconstructed historic buildings, commemorative properties, or resources under 50 years of age are not considered eligible for a marker. Please note that some of the resource types may qualify if they can be included in the following criteria exceptions.

  • A religious property (such as a church or synagogue) featuring significance due to architectural distinction or historical importance.
  • A building or structure removed from its original location, but which is significant for architectural value, or is a surviving building or structure associated with a historic person or event.
  • A birthplace or grave of a historical figure of outstanding importance.
  • A cemetery that is significant due to the presence of graves of historically important individuals, distinctive architecture, or that is associated with a historic event.
  • A cemetery with unique and creative markers.
  • An accurately reconstructed historic building or structure, in a suitable environmental setting, when no other building or structure with the same associations survives.
  • A commemorative property featuring significant design, age, tradition, or symbolic value that has invested it with its own historical significance.
  • A property under 50 years old if it is of exceptional historical importance.

The Importance of Accuracy

Since each Historical Marker is a highly visible public document, each must be highly accurate in the information presented. If the application is accepted, MDOT will review the submitted research and text in each application and provide the applicant with guidance, recommendations, and edits. It is possible an application will be returned if it is limited in or does not contain historical references.

Click Here to Access the Application Form

Report a Historical Marker

Repair, Replacement, and Retirement

The earliest Historical Markers were cast iron, while more recent markers are cast aluminum. Although durable, these heavy signs need occasional repair by grinding, welding, and repainting. Destroyed or obsolete markers are removed from their sites and stored at the MDOT SHA sign shop prior to recycling. They may or may not be replaced. Occasionally the removal of a marker may be necessary to update, refurbish, repair, or it to a more appropriate setting. If a marker is removed for maintenance or repair, a tag will be left on the pole. If a marker is missing and no repair tag is present, or if you have information about a marker that is out of place due to a traffic accident, act of vandalism or theft, please contact us at

Please Note: Application submission for new historical markers has been suspended until 2025.