A nice report on the Mileposts near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is online at http://www.rep-am.com/news/local/765522.txt.
Here is an excerpt:
I was reminded of all this today when we went on a hunt in Woodbury and Bethlehem for Benjamin Franklin milestones. My wife is working on a research project regarding these mile markers, which were first set up when Franklin was postmaster general for the colonies.
There’s no evidence that Franklin himself actually set the milestones; apparently he developed the system and it was the local selectmen’s responsibility to mark and protect them, as they do with infrastructure today.
The Woodbury Public Library has a copy of a Bicentennial report that Hope Huntington Wilson and Charlotte H. Isham prepared in 1976 for the Old Woodbury Historical Society detailing each of the eight milestones they could find. It’s a little like reading my creative writing assignment. You can follow the directions, but the landmarks may not be quite the same.
Even the milestones themselves have sometimes been moved or altered over the years. All are on the west side of what once was the main road to Litchfield, the county seat. Today we know the route as Route 6 in Woodbury, Flanders Road between Woodbury and Bethlehem, and Main Street in Bethlehem.
The 1976 report says that “the newly formed real estate agency, Adams and Adams, alerted by Bethlehem historians, has rescued a stone and set it near their driveway.” Don’t look for Adams and Adams there today. The milestone, though, is where it always was, just north of the Painted Pony in Bethlehem. It marks eight miles from Litchfield.
The nine-mile stone is, according to the report, “in a safe position, a few feet south of Roden’s driveway.” Today, Bethlehem’s assessor lists five Roden properties, although only one is on Flanders Road, at 166. We found a stone near there, marked L X M — Latin for 10 miles to Litchfield — even though the 1976 report said that was the home of LIXM, and that they couldn’t find milestone 10.
Milestone 11 is, according to the report, “just below the driveway to Bethwood,” which is now marked as a road. We found it there.
We were not able to find marker 12, which in 1976 was “just south of the mail box on the Jason Parker property,” or 13, which was missing even then.
Milestone 14 is easy to find, in front of North Congregational Church. So is 15, “on the Bicentennial Common (almost opposite the Soldier’s Monument).” So, too, is 16, “by the Milestone Motel, opposite the A&W in Middle Quarter.” The eponymous motel is now the renovated Milestone Inn. Don’t go looking for the A&W, though; it has been gone for years.
That leaves the easiest: L XVII M, milestone 17, “in the wall near the Woodbury-Southbury Town Line (at Merryvale).” It’s still there; Merryvale isn’t. Today the sign on the ancient inn says Longwood.
I’m sure this won’t be the last you’ll hear of the Benjamin Franklin milestones. Someone out there knows where they all are (or should be) and who has been caring for them over the years. Someone will share some anecdotes.
Meanwhile, though, it was fun to see how landmarks change with the times and even the milestones we think are immovable really aren’t.
Howard Fielding ([email protected]) lives in Southbury.
From the Republican-American