Historical Association of Tobyhanna Township

HATT | PO Box 2084 | Pocono Pines, PA 18350-2084

MARKER ADVOCATES of TOBYHANNA TOWNSHIP
Monroe County, Pennsylvania
HISTORY OF THE PROJECT

Download this history and minutes of our meetings

The Roadside Historical Markers of Tobyhanna Township is a project founded by a group of volunteers on May 19, 2015. It was formed as the Marker Advocates of Tobyhanna Township (MATT), a nonprofit association, to preserve and share the rich history of the township, instill community pride, and create heritage tourism.

MATT operates under Pennsylvania Title 15, 9111 Corporations and Nonprofit Associations law, which includes the selection of a manager. All revenues for the project are secured by donation. MATT keeps detailed financial records and minutes of meetings, which are available for public inspection.

Volunteers for MATT represent community organizations, businesses, government organization, as well as interested individuals. All brought a great deal of knowledge and experience in their own disciplines, and all were very dedicated to the objectives of the project.

MATT established an objective to complete its project within four to five years, at which time it would not be necessary to continue its operations. For this reason, and to save on costs of operations, the Historical Association of Tobyhanna Township agreed to handle all financial affairs through a separate bank account, as MATT’s fiduciary agent.

MATT organized itself through working committees of 15 community volunteers to take on the jobs of fundraising, research and text writing, purchasing, site selection and installation, purchasing, dedications and publicity and the driving tour map brochure.

Key elements supporting the marker project are a comprehensive website and QR (quick response) code labels on the marker poles that lead to the website.

The Historical Content and the Marker Design


An advisory committee was formed to recommend the topics of each marker and to research and write the text. The most significant historical topics of Tobyhanna Township were selected, using the criteria that each topic be deemed meritorious, historically significant and interesting.

Ultimately, MATT approved 28 topics as candidates for markers. Two topics were combined into one large, custom designed marker. There were a few topics that were not approved, since these did not meet the established criteria.

Since traditional large markers can cost more than $3,000 and donations from the community could be limited, MATT decided upon an 18-inch x 24-inch design, using smaller characters. This required a more reasonable donation of $1,500 to cover the cost of each marker and other minor, miscellaneous operating expenses.

As much content could be fit on these markers as what is on at least 80 percent of the larger markers dotting the landscape. The quality to the reader is not jeopardized, since MATT realized that virtually no marker of any size can be read by passing vehicles without stopping, due to the speed on today’s roads.

A Pennsylvania company was selected to manufacture each marker: Lake Shore Industries of Erie. Each marker is a casting made of virgin aluminum ingot, and are double-sided, with the exception of one marker. This type of marker is in use throughout the U.S., and has shown to be durable and virtually ageless performance, some exceeding 75 years old without any significant issues.

The marker design is capped at the top with a pine tree molded graphic, significant of past and present huge pine trees that have graced the community and the Pocono Plateau.

A parchment color was chosen for the lettering, on a field base of green. Each marker is mounted onto a steel post, which is sunk into cement anchoring according to depths of building codes.

Site Selection


The location of each marker took into account the activities of the topic, considering the center of activity, the site of physical buildings or structures and the overall theme of each topic.

n a few cases, sites selected were close to but not at exact locations of the topic, due to safety and convenience for the viewing of the text. Permission was received from each property owner, and where necessary, a site agreement for easement and continued access was executed. Street, road and highway right of ways were also a consideration for the exact placement.

Fundraising


With so many donations being needed, an experienced person in local fundraising volunteered to direct those efforts. That committee obtained donations for the vast majority of markers. The remaining donations came from county and local governments, related organizations and individuals within MATT.

Organizations and individuals were identified that had some relationship to the topics, making this a true community project. A program brochure, financial statement and donation form were designed and printed, and fundraising efforts began in July 2015.

The reception and enthusiasm by potential donors quickly developed, and in less than a year, almost $40,000.00 was raised for the donation for all but two markers.

The Website


Since the historical association maintains a complete website, they agreed to allow MATT to use it, developing a sub-site. This resulted in no website costs, except for initial design and page-loading costs.

MATT decided to use a typical home page, and then each marker would have its own page with it. Each page contains photos of the marker, recognition of the donor, an interactive Google map for the marker’s location, photos of the dedication ceremonies, related photos and documents of the topic and links to related historical information. The website is professionally developed and maintained by Kim de Bourbon of BGA Studios.

The markers are also listed on the international Historical Marker Database website, but without the extensive resources that are reserved for MATT’s website. The MATT markers have earned a distinctive section in IHMD’s special Marker Series listings under the Heritage category, collected in a section called “Tobyhanna Township, Pennsylvania History Tour Historical Markers.”

QR Technology

With the predominance of smartphones and its technology, the QR code system has come into play with the project in a significant way. Each marker has a unique QR code label that is matched with its respective web page.

With a label attached to each marker pole, when scanned by a smartphone or similar device, the result is immediate: the web page for that marker appears on the device. This allows the viewer to access much more information than what fits on the face of the marker, as previously described.

This makes the driving tour an experience not normally associated with traditional roadside markers. Each label is of lasting quality for outdoor use, as the standard developed by the National Park Service was used for its material and printing. A stainless-steel plate of aircraft quality material is first mounted to the marker pole with stainless steel screws and Loctite, on which the label is affixed.

Text Preparation

Each topic’s significance is documented by the considerable historical record of books, newspapers, pamphlets, deeds, family histories, photographs and many other sources. Some topics were already researched in prior efforts by the historical association. A committee of four volunteers wrote the text, which was then approved by MATT, the donors and the property owners. Each text had several drafts over a period of weeks. It was important, as well as tricky, to fit the most important details of the topic in the limited space of each marker.

Installation Schedule Overview

Two of 25 markers had already been installed a few years before the full MATT project began.
With a timeline of donation activities, text writing and manufacturing lead times, the first marker installation of the project occurred on November 8, 2015.

Unfortunately, with winter coming to the Poconos, frozen ground would not permit installation of additional poles, so installations and dedications resumed in June 2016. These continued until the fall, when once again installations were suspended due to the winter season. The final push for installations resumed on May 21, 2017, completing the process with marker #25 being installed on June 9, 2017.

Dedications

A dedication date for each marker was selected with approval of the donor, and invitations for each dedication were emailed to all parties.

All markers were kept under lock and key and not mounted on their poles until the night before or the day of the dedication, after which they were covered with a ceremonial cloth and wrapped with a ribbon and bow in advance of the ceremony.

At the dedication, all parties were introduced and thanked, and historical background was cited about the topic of the marker. The donor(s) were then asked to “cut the ribbon” and unveil the marker.

Photos were taken of the dedication, and appear for each marker on the website.

Some topics had more involvement than others, so attendance for the dedications varied from 10 to 35 people, including township supervisors, state representatives and property owners. A news story was prepared, with photos of the donors and the marker, and run in the Journal of the Pocono Plateau newspaper.

The Driving Tour


With 25 markers located throughout Tobyhanna Township, many are located at or close to interesting locations. And three are located at our natural areas. It was decided to feature those areas on the website and the print version of the driving tour map.

A major push is necessary to get residents and visitors out and about in our community. It takes about 2.5 hours to easily drive the marker tour, stopping to read each and to do some scanning at the marker sites. Of course, more time can be spent at the natural areas. Spending four hours would not be a stretch, and still, not everything can be seen to appreciate. This may prompt visitors to the sites to return for a second or third time to complete their tour including some significant nature walks, fishing, and appreciation of our natural Pocono Plateau.

Donor Appreciation


Considerations were given to having a reception with food and drink, to thank all the donors. A number of negatives surfaced, including the cost and the fact that a number of donors would not be able to attend on a specific date. And there was concern about spending donor funds to thank them.

The final decision of the group was made to have printed and framed photos of each marker presented to the respective donors, with the dedication date printed on the photo. This provides a lasting appreciation and memory of the marker and its donation. This minimal expense was paid for by general donations received that were not associated with specific marker donations. Each framed photo was presented by the MATT volunteer who originally arranged for the donation, along with copies of the driving tour map.

Publicity


Each dedication was covered by the Journal of the Pocono Plateau, accompanied by photos. Periodic TV coverage was done, and after the completion of all installations, TV story coverage was done by stations from Allentown and Wilkes-Barre & Scranton.

Approximately 75 professionally printed posters were placed throughout Tobyhanna Township announcing the project and the driving tour. A large QR code was placed on the posters to provide immediate access to the driving tour map and the entire website.

For those who cannot access the map via the QR code or online, printed maps are available in counter display stands at five locations: the township offices, Clymer Library and the post offices in Blakeslee, Pocono Lake and Pocono Pines.

The printed driving map brochure has controlled availability to take advantage of the fact that most of the population now use smartphones and devices, and can access it online. But for those needing the hard copy, the four-color, 8.5” x 17”, two-sided brochure with map provides all of the details for the project.

In conjunction with the upcoming WB&E Railroad “rails-to-trails” hike/bike trail, a display of the tour will be erected at the trailhead near Pocono Mountain High School West. The first phase of this trail ends at Hungry Hill, which is the first stop on the eastern end of the marker tour.

To take advantage of the many participants of this new trail, a permanent graphic sign with QR code and map will be erected at the trail head parking area.

Future Maintenance


Into the future, the MATT recognizes there may be maintenance expense of markers due to accidents and possible vandalism. For this reason, MATT decided to reserve $1,500 for future expenses. If any expenses exceed that, it is hoped that the community will step up to offer donations for continual preservation of the markers. HATT will continue to maintain the current maintenance fund in its separate checking account held for MATT.

The entire program was a lot of work supported by a lot of people. The donors and their families and community organization members, government officials, the volunteers and property owners. It is not an exaggeration to say that the total number of people touching, influencing and working hard to make this project a success, were several hundred people from the community. A true community success!

Download this history and minutes of our meetings