Milestones and Milemarkers

Did you ever wonder where the term “milestone” came from ? As in, “I’ve reached an important milestone today.” A synonym today would be “sign” or “mile marker” and the modern-day version is likely to be green with white, plastic lettering. The photo shown here illustrates an historic version of a road sign.

Today the marker lies behind the Amherst County Museum & Historical Society, but it is no longer in situ. The date of this marker is uncertain but the number, most likely, corresponds to a mile along an historic turnpike. If it’s a local marker, the “L” might stand for “Lynchburg.”

During James Monroe’s Presidency (1817-1825), the first interstate roadways were created. As coaches and horseback riders traveled further away from home on federal roadways these mileage markers or milestones became increasingly important. Note, “boundary stones” were also erected during this time period. For example, the District of Columbia was surrounded by 40 such stones, shaped like diamonds, and placed a mile apart. Click here to visit a website with an interactive map for each of these stones.