TICONDEROGA - For the past decade, Bill Dolback, the Ticonderoga town historian and president of the Ticonderoga Historical Society, has been replacing and refurbishing the town's historical markers.
The metal signs were originally created by the New York State Education Department in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The intention was to provide information to drivers on the state highway system which was being improved at the time, Dolback said.
One such sign, painted in the state's blue and yellow colors, which was erected in 1932 along The Portage, reads: "Along this street ran the old military road fortified in 1759 by General Amherst prior to his siege of Fort Ticonderoga."
Unfortunately, many of the original markers have been "vandalized, broken, or have been lost," Dolback said. So he and Theresa C. Lonergan, a former town historian, began to make an inventory of the markers.
"If they were lost, we solicited funds to replace them," he said. "If they were in poor condition we refurbished them."
New York State abandoned the project decades ago, Dolback said, and so he's been forced to pay for and do the work mostly on his own in recent years.
Dolback estimated there were roughly 60 markers erected in Ticonderoga. He's not sure how many of the originals are left, but guesses there are "probably less than half a dozen."
In a letter from New York State Historian Robert Weible, Dolback was recently told that Ticonderoga was the only community, so far as Weible knew, that had a maintenance program in place to restore and maintain historical markers.
That said, Dolback said there seems to be a renewed push for more awareness of the signs. He said the Association of Public Historians of New York State is hosting a workshop dedicated to the subject on May 7 in Albany.
Dolback said all of the replacement of Ticonderoga historical markers had been completed. Now he simply provides the markers with regular maintenance.
Last year, for instance, he took down five and refurbished them with the help of assistants. International Paper Company employees sandblasted the markers, after which Dolback repainted them. Using special enamel paint, he applied layers and layers, especially over the lettering. All in all, Dolback said, the process took about 25 hours per marker.
Dolback said it was a desire to educate the public which motivated the replacement and refurbishment of the markers.
"They provide not only the tourists, but the local residents the opportunity to be aware of their historical heritage," he said.