Along the Heritage Trail

Mark the spot

Where history happened

By Tom Castaldi
Have you noticed the historical markers with the distinctive gold on the aluminum cast raised letters with the painted blue background? They are known as the Indiana Historical Society/Indiana History Bureau format or “State Format” markers for short. Other organizations that sponsor and support historical signage include the Allen County Fort Wayne Historical Society, the Fort Wayne Bicentennial Heritage Trail, and the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Allen County can be considered well documented with markers. In the myriad of the heritage reminders, format markers have been put in place.

One marker, located on the southeast corner of Center and Huron streets is at the Camp Allen Park playground entrance and was erected by the Indiana Civil War Centennial Commission. It commemorates the Civil War mustering-in camp where the 30th, 44th, 74th, 88th and 100th Indiana Regiments and the 11th Indiana Battery were organized.

A second marker is at the “Home of Philo Farnsworth” found on St. Joseph Boulevard near the intersection with East State Boulevard. Placed in 1992, it celebrates the famous television inventor who was living in this home between 1948 and 1967. Farnsworth is credited for “perfecting the image formation mechanism which enabled the first effective image transmission in 1927.” His company, Farnsworth Radio and Television Corporation, was located in Fort Wayne from 1938 to 1949.

A marker was placed at the corner of West Main Street and Growth Avenue to commemorate the Feb. 22, 1832, groundbreaking of the Wabash & Erie Canal. When completed, the canal would link Lake Erie at Toledo with Evansville on the Ohio River. It was long a site that historians wrote and talked about and took a lot of research to determine where the marker in 1992 would most appropriately be placed.

Guldin Park is where one of the area’s several forts once stood. The park is on the southeast corner of the Van Buren Street Bridge in Fort Wayne, and in 2000 the Indiana Historical Bureau and Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Indiana collaborated to install a marker. With text on both sides, the marker recalls where the French built a fort in 1722 named Fort Saint Philippe. It was one of three French forts built in what is now Indiana to protect French fur trade from the encroaching English. The opposite side tells of the strategic waterway system connecting Great Lakes regions with Mississippi River Valley and the use of the portage between the Maumee and Wabash rivers.

Just beyond the U.S. 24 East interchange at the I-469 bypass in New Haven, the Indiana Historical Bureau, Canal Society of Indiana and New Haven Kiwanis placed the Gronauer Lock No. 2 marker in 2003. It also has text on both sides. One notes that the Wabash & Erie Canal lock, discovered in June 1991 during excavation for highway construction, was named for lock keeper Joseph Gronauer. On the reverse side, the text mentions the many artifacts and pieces of timber that were recovered and a portion of the timbers that were sent to be used as an exhibit in the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis.

East of U.S. 33 about three-tenths of a mile on Carroll Road near Madden Road across from a church and a cemetery, “The Site of Hardin’s Defeat” northwest of Fort Wayne, the Indiana Sesquicentennial Commission placed the marker back in 1966. Here Col. John Hardin, of the Kentucky Militia and Capt. John Armstrong, of the U.S. Army with some 200 men, were routed in 1790 by Miami Chief Little Turtle and his braves.

If you want to spend an enjoyable afternoon, take the time to drive around our historic county and don’t overlook the many markers on the sites where history was made.

Tom Castaldi

Allen County Historian Tom Castaldi, a retired Essex vice president, hosts "On the Heritage Trail," which is broadcast at 6:35 a.m. and 8:35 a.m. Mondays on WBOI, 89.1 FM, and "Historia Nostra" heard on WLYV-1450 AM.

Posted: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 1:43 pm
Last updated: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 3:15 pm