Heritage, Volume 5, Number 3, Autumn 1987 Page: 13
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preservationists. Bill Southwell, president of the marker
manufacturing company, recalls being summoned from
San Antonio on a cold winter night to meet one of
Shepperd's employees at the courthouse square in Junction
to deliver a number of historical markers needed for
dedication ceremonies the following day in Odessa.
Shepperd's programs to "display history along the highways"
and to promote the tourism value of historical
markers culminated in 1965 with the introduction of the
RAMPS (Recordation, Appreciation, Marking, Preservation
The primary goal of RAMPS was to place 5,000
markers by 1969. During this time a number of special
marker series were planned for topics such as transportation
and communication, outstanding women of Texas, law
enforcement officers, modern Texas statesmen, and outstanding
Texas newspaper publishers. The RAMPS
program reached its target of 5,000 markers on October
27, 1969, when a marker for the Rocking Chair Ranch in
Collingsworth County was dedicated. A second goal of the
program was to focus attention on the link between
historical markers and tourism. Taking place during the 5year
RAMPS campaign was an event important to Texas
tourism-the 1968 HemisFair in San Antonio. An effort
was made to place many historical markers in time for the
fair, in order to take advantage of the great numbers of
tourists expected that year.
The 5,000th marker placed during the RAMPS program
did not signal the end of the state marker program. By
that time, there were nearly a dozen different styles and
sizes of markers. Early on, it was determined that a medallion
alone was not sufficient to mark an historic structure
and that an interpretive plate was needed to provide a
brief history of the site. Interpretive plates, originally
available in several different sizes, became a requirement
and were later standardized into the current 16" x 12"
format. The historical tree markers, initiated in 1962 to
recognize trees which were "directly associated with high
human endeavor, with the life of some notable person or
persons, or with one or more great events," became objects
of curiosity upon the demise of the subject trees, and the
program was discontinued. Some of these markers remain
to this day.
As the marker program matured, another adjustment
that took place was the replacement of the telegraphic
form of prose with a narrative-style inscription. The art of
inscription writing itself has seen many changes through
the years. With a limited number of lines and spaces per
line in each marker, the original inscriptions were plotted
by hand on graph paper to meet spacial limitations. The
typewriter soon replaced the pencil, and today's inscriptions
are finalized on computer. Each character must still
be counted individually, however, taking into consideration
the different values for each. Although all historical
marker inscriptions are written by the State Marker
Program staff, they are reviewed on the local level by the
county historical commissions and other interested parties.
Revisions are often called for, and insofar as is possible
given style and spacing requirements, the staff attempts to
comply with revision requests. Doelece Parmelee,
The first TSHSC tourist information marker is displayed at the Southwell
Company prior to its placement in Smith County. The marker
design was later changed, and the scroll border was discontinued.
Director of Research for many years, probably holds the
record for revising one inscription a total of 39 times!
The year 1973 was a pivotal one for the program. A
backlog of marker applications, many submitted on a
"rush" basis and most containing inadequate historical
data and therefore requiring additional research by the
staff, led to a call for a moratorium on marker applications
by TSHSC president Clifton Caldwell on March 14,
1973. During the two-month hiatus a new application form
was devised, which included specific topical guidelines
and required that a documented narrative history be
submitted to address questions appearing in the guidelines.
No longer would suggested inscriptions be
accepted; however, staff-written texts would still be sent
for review on the local level. A surcharge was assessed in
hopes of reducing the number of rush orders, which
created a backlog not only in the Austin office, but also at
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 5, Number 3, Autumn 1987, periodical, Autumn 1987; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45439/m1/13/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.