(Fort Wayne Monthly “Along the Heritage Trail with Tom Castaldi” - Oct 2011, No. 83)
Revised February 26, 2016 per information received from Indiana Historical Bureau
Have you noticed the historical markers with the distinctive gold on the aluminum cast raised letters with the painted blue background? They are known as the Indiana History Bureau format or “State Format” markers for short. Other organizations that sponsor and support historical signage include the Allen County Fort Wayne Historical Society, the Fort Wayne Bicentennial Heritage Trail, and the Daughters of the American Revolution are among them.
When applying for a state historical marker, it must be deeply researched then pass the approval of a panel of experts and the requestor must be able to come up with the $2,200 current cost before the markers can become a reality. These large markers commemorate significant people, organizations, places, and events in Indiana and American history.
Allen County has a rich history and can be considered well documented with markers. In the myriad of the heritage remainders, state format markers have been put in place.
One marker located on Fort Wayne’s southeast corner of Center and Huron streets is at the Camp Allen Park playground entrance and was erected by the Indiana Civil War Centennial Commission. It commemorates the Civil War mustering-in camp where the 30th, 44th, 74th, 88th, and 100th Indiana Regiments and the 11th Indiana Battery were organized.
A second marker is at the “Home of Philo Farnsworth” found on St. Joseph Boulevard near the intersection with East State in Fort Wayne. Placed in 1992, it celebrates the famous television inventor who was living here in this home between 1948 and 1967. Farnsworth is credited for, “perfecting the image formation mechanism which enabled the first effective image transmission in 1927.” His company, Farnsworth Radio and Television Corporation, was located in Fort Wayne from 1938-1949.
A marker was placed at the corner of West Main Street and Growth Avenue to commemorate the February 22, 1832, groundbreaking of the Wabash & Erie Canal. When completed the canal would link Lake Erie at Toledo with Evansville on the Ohio River. It was long a site that historians wrote and talked about and took a lot of research to determine where the marker in 1992 was most appropriately to be placed
Guldin Park is the site of where one of the area’s several forts once stood. The park is located on the southeast corner of the Van Buren Street Bridge in Fort Wayne, and in 2000 the Indiana Historical Bureau and Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Indiana collaborated to install a marker. With separate text on two sides of the marker, it recalls where the French built a fort in 1722 named Fort Saint Philippe. It was one of three French forts built in what is now Indiana to protect French fur trade from the encroaching English. The opposite side tells of the strategic waterway system connecting Great Lakes regions with Mississippi River Valley and the use of the portage between the Maumee and Wabash rivers.
Just beyond the U.S. 24 east interchange of I-469 bypass in New Haven Indiana Historical Bureau, Canal Society of Indiana, and New Haven Kiwanis placed the Gronauer Lock No. 2 marker in 2003. It too has two separate texts on two sides. One notes that the Wabash & Erie Canal lock was discovered in June 1991 during excavation for highway construction was named for lock keeper Joseph Gronauer. On the reverse side the text mentions the many artifacts and pieces of timber that were recovered and a portion of the timbers that were sent to be used as an exhibit in the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis.
If you want to spend an enjoyable afternoon, take the time to drive around our historic county and don’t overlook the many markers on the sites where history was made.
Allen County Historian Tom Castaldi© is author of the Wabash & Erie Canal Notebook series; hosts “On the Heritage Trail” which is broadcast on 89.1 fm WBOI; and “Historia Nostra” heard on Redeemer Radio 106.3 fm. Enjoy his previously published columns on the History Center’s blog “Our Stories” at historycenterfw.blogspot.com.