You've probably spotted these distinctive dark blue signs with gold lettering along the roadsides of the Pocono Mountains and throughout the state of Pennsylvania. They're part of the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Program, and there are more than 2,000 plaques in the Commonwealth, with over 50 located in the Poconos, highlighting significant sights and stories from the past of our region, state and nation.
Maybe you've visited Dingmans Falls, but do you know who Dingman was? Did you know that the Father of the Conservation Movement called Milford home, or that the first commercial locomotive in the United States made tracks in Honesdale? As you're exploring the Pocono Mountains, you're treading ground that has been inhabited for over 10,000 years: archaeological evidence uncovered near Stroudsburg revealed one of the oldest Native American sites in the Northeastern United States.
There's a lot of local history to discover! Keep reading to take a closer look at some of the historical markers in the four counties of the Poconos and learn about local heritage attractions and museums where you can dive even deeper into the past.
For over two hundred years, the Pocono Mountains has been known as a natural beauty spot for vacation getaways, but the industrial revolution also features largely in our history. In the nineteenth century, the area's rich deposits of anthracite coal were a major power source for cities all over the East Coast, and the Delaware and Hudson Canal was built in the 1820s, a 108-mile engineering marvel of its day providing transportation for the fuel. Today the Canal's towpath is a peaceful refuge for wanderers along the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, and remnants from the heyday of the D&H can still be seen, like the Roebling Bridge and the Canal Park at Lock 31 in Hawley.
The county seat of Wayne County is named after Philip Hone, the first president of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company, and you'll pass the historical marker for Honesdale along US Route 6 on the west end of town. The historical marker for the D&H Canal is located in front of the Wayne County Historical Society and Museum, housed in the Canal Company's former headquarters, and you'll find a second historical marker out front dedicated to The Stourbridge Lion.
D&H utilized rail as well as waterway travel, and the company built one of the first railroads in the country. The first commercial locomotive ever to run in the United States got underway on August 8, 1829 in Honesdale, and visitors can view a replica of the original Stourbridge Lion inside the museum.
Looking to make tracks of your own? Experience Honesdale's train heritage with a ride on The Stourbridge Line, which runs scenic train tours and excursions in vintage railroad coaches. Soarin' Eagle Rail Tours offers another way to explore the rails - by cycling right on them! Pedal with friends or family along the Lackawaxen River in a unique two- or four-seater bike and soak in the greenery.
While the Delaware & Hudson Canal Company was transporting coal in Wayne County, another venture known all over the US was underway further south along the Lackawaxen River in the town of White Mills. Renowned glassmaker Christian Dorflinger founded his Glass Works here in 1865, and the fine crystal pieces were widely in demand, even gracing the dinner table in the White House for several administrations. Dorflinger's historical marker is located just outside the Dorflinger Factory Museum. Further up Elizabeth Street you'll find the Dorflinger Glass Museum, which houses over 1,000 pieces of cut, engraved, etched, gilded and enameled crystal, as well as a beautiful wildlife sanctuary.
Visitors entering the Pocono Mountains region from New Jersey might take the scenic Dingmans Ferry Bridge, and if you're on a hunt for waterfalls, you might seek out the second highest waterfall in Pennsylvania, beautiful Dingmans Falls in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Dingman's Ferry has a historical marker along US 209, commemorating the man behind the name. Andrew Dingman was one of the earliest settlers to arrive in the area in the 1700s, and he operated one of the first ferries across the Delaware. For over a century it served as an important crossing point for pioneers heading west.
Another historical marker located along the Delaware River in Pike County can be found at the Zane Grey Museum. Literature lovers won't want to miss the chance to visit the house that the famed author of Western adventure novels lived and wrote in from 1905 to 1918. Grey had a deep love of the area, and he and his wife are buried not far from the house.
The picturesque town of Milford radiates historic charm, and it's no surprise there are historical markers to be found here. One Pennsylvania plaque can be found outside Hotel Fauchère, paying homage to Swiss immigrant and innovative hotelier Louis Fauchère. He served as master chef at Delmonico's in New York City, and the hotel he founded still carries on his traditions of excellent service and cuisine, with two restaurants on property including The Delmonico Room and Bar Louis. Who knew history could be so delicious?
Milford is also home to Grey Towers National Historic Site, the 100-acre estate of former Governor of Pennsylvania and founder of the USDA Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot. Several historical markers commemorate Pinchot's local legacy and his commitment to preserving the environment and natural resources around the country for generations to come. When President John F. Kennedy dedicated Grey Towers in 1963, he called Pinchot "the Father of the Conservation Movement."
Some of the earliest evidence of human habitation in the Northeastern United States was discovered in Monroe County near the intersection of the Delaware River and Brodhead Creek. A historical marker in River's Edge Park commemorates the Shawnee-Minisink Archaeological Site, where investigations revealed Native American artifacts and stone tools dating back nearly 13,000 years to the Late Ice Age.
The nearby Pocono Indian Museum in East Stroudsburg spotlights the history of the Delaware tribe, the first inhabitants of the Pocono Mountains. The legacy of the Lenni Lenape can be seen in place names around the region, and the word "Pocono" is itself a Lenape word, meaning "river between mountains."
Just outside of Bushkill along River Road, drivers will see a historical marker designating the oldest road in Monroe County and the route that the first Dutch Settlers took when they arrived in the early eighteenth century. Nearby Stroudsburg was laid out in the mid-1700s by Colonel Jacob Stroud, a leader in the American Revolution. His historical plaque is located outside the Stroudsburg Fire Station at the corner of 7th and Sarah Streets. Many of the downtown streets were named after members of the Stroud family, and visitors can explore their legacy more at the Stroud Mansion.
The Antoine Dutot Museum in Monroe County sheds light on the history of the Poconos region, including the boom of Delaware Water Gap as a resort destination in the nineteenth century. The Gap had a national reputation, and visitors from Philadelphia and New York took the train to spend the entire summer at elegant hotels perched above the Delaware River.
These days, you'll find shops and hotels in Marshalls Creek just outside of East Stroudsburg, but in ages past, giant prehistoric mammals walked the land here. One of the most complete mastodon skeletons ever discovered on the East Coast was dug up in the area, the 12,000-year-old bones perfectly preserved by a peat bog. The Marshalls Creek Mastodon is housed at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, but you'll find the historical marker along US 209 near Oak Grove Drive.
From Revolutionary War sites to local legends, watch the video below to learn more about historical markers in Monroe County's Tobyhanna Township.
Once touted as the "Switzerland of America," Jim Thorpe was another popular destination for Victorian tourists. You can still visit (or even stay at!) the mansions of industrialists who called the town home. A blue and gold historical marker stands outside one of the grand houses, the Asa Packer Mansion. Perched prominently on the hillside, this was once the home of Asa Packer, a railroad pioneer, philanthropist and founder of Lehigh University. The rooms are beautiful preserved for visitors today to explore, and the Harry Packer Mansion next door, built as a wedding gift from Asa to his son, also allows guests to experience the splendor of a bygone age.
Originally known as Mauch Chunk, Jim Thorpe was founded by the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company, which organized anthracite coal mining in the nearby hills and built canals and railroads to transport the coal. You'll find a historical marker for the Company's Switchback Railroad just outside of town. Originally built to move the coal, the track utilized inclines and gravity in a similar design to that later used by theme parks to create roller coasters. In fact, the Switchback Railway was operated as a tourist attraction in the late 1800s and is considered one of the world's first roller coasters. The area has now been converted into a peaceful trail perfect for hiking and biking.
The No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum allows visitors to learn more about the local mines and even journey into one. Outside Jim Thorpe's Old Jail Museum is a historical marker dedicated to a group of Irish miners known as the "Molly Maguires." Visitors to the Old Jail can discover their story and view the mysterious enduring handprint of one of the prisoners who proclaimed his innocence.
Pocono Historical Marker Map
Consult the map below and see how many of our region's historical markers you can take in during your trip! To find a complete list, be sure to browse the Pennsylvania Historical Markers online database. Nominations for historical markers are ongoing, and new plaques are dedicated every year.
Why not journey even further into Pennsylvania's past with a stay at one of our region's beautiful historic accommodations? Explore things to do in the area, stroll through our storied small towns and experience the outdoor wonders that have made the Poconos popular for generations.