“Where is that marker?” one fellow asked recently at the Wilkes County Public Library. He was one of a few dozen patrons enjoying refreshments and conversation during the open house on Sept. 26 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilkes Genealogical Society. He was pointing to a picture with an old concrete monument with a metal plaque. “I’ve lived here my whole life and I’ve never seen that monument,” he added.
He was asking about the Boone Trail Highway Memorial marker, erected in 1917 at the corner of today’s CBD Loop and D Street. It was dedicated 100 years ago this month, on Oct. 27. North Wilkesboro is home to the original, the first of 358 related such monuments placed across the country until 1938 by North Carolina’s own Joseph Hampton Rich. (The more well-known, arrowhead-shaped Daniel Boone marker in North Wilkesboro was placed much later as another commemoration to Daniel Boone. Only about 115 of these markers exist today.)
Hamp Rich started placing these monuments in North Carolina to encourage the state to invest more