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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | Road Signs to the Past

Road Signs to the Past

road signI’ve always been a little puzzled by this road sign at the end of an exit ramp off Route 1 near my home.

There is no Russellville. There is no Forestville.

There are no towns 1 mile in either direction.

But there used to be. I finally got curious enough to look them up.

There was a tavern at the intersection of Newport Road (PA 896) and Limestone Road (PA 10) as early as 1737. A town grew up around the crossroads, which eventually came to be named Russellville. In 1823 Russellville had a population of one hundred with a sawmill, a hotel, two general stores, a grocery and a post office. There was also a private school known as the Russellville Academy.

None of those places exist anymore.

Forestville (and the forest it was named for) are also gone. Apparently there used to be a blacksmith shop, a store, and a post office.

Poof. Gone. But PennDoT still puts up signs telling you how to get there.

(I’m kind of jealous Forestville had a post office. The town I live in doesn’t have its own post office. We were assigned the post office at Lincoln University, so my mailing address uses Lincoln University as the town name, even though it’s not a town, and I don’t live on the university grounds. Weird, huh?)

Do you have any historical leftovers where you live?

19 Responses to Road Signs to the Past

  1. I can’t say that I have any leftovers. Weird that the sign was left up when the towns don’t exist. Hmm, maybe that could be the start of a story idea.

  2. That must really confuse people when they don’t find a town. What if they are in peril and think help is only a mile away?

  3. mshatch says:

    There used to be a Glendon somewhere near the Wayside Tea House in Nobleboro with it’s own train depot, both long gone except what little is left of the Depot. Interestingly, if you look up Glendon on Google Earth, it shows you where it used to be.

  4. Hilary says:

    Hi Dianne – sounds like a really interesting area … I guess the sawmill used all the forest and that was that!

    Don’t ask me re what’s happened to history … as I’ll never stop .. there is a Bourne here – but most of it is covered over … Saffrons Sports Ground – used to be a saffron field, Old Orchard Road – guess what – an orchard, Grove Road – a grove … and so England goes … we have roads called droves – where sheep were driven along …

    I could go on – but I might just stop! Fascinating though to find out that history … 1737 is quite early for the States … that was fun – cheers Hilary

  5. Strange that they have the signs still there…but sweet in a way too. We have an old town sign at the end of our dirt road ‘Omo’, where a town once stood. My hubs was voted Mayor a few months after we moved in by the neighbors and the earlier Mayor changed to Secretary, saying he got sick of the title after 30 years. Of course, none of this really exists 😉
    Our house is also built next to an old graveyard, which has all sorts of stories. One buried couple has five small stones (just lying loose in the weeds) in a row next to their headstones. They had five children who died of a disease, one right after the other, and didn’t have time to make proper markings.
    The history in this area, since it was right on the borderline of the Civil War, is amazingly rich and sad.
    (and that was my big ramble of the day 😉 )

  6. Tiana Smith says:

    That’s funny! I live in a street where the first sign (when you turn into it) is spelled differently than the sign further in, but that’s the only interesting thing about our road signs.

  7. Lexa Cain says:

    It’s spooky that there are still signs to towns that aren’t there anymore. Or maybe on certain nights, they ARE there! Or maybe the DoT is just dumb and lazy. OR IS IT?? Mwah-hahaha!

  8. Fascinating. Where I grew up there was signage to an old town that was in a lake. It had been flooded a hundred years ago, but the sign still told us where it was. 🙂

  9. These kinds of stories leave you scratching your head. I miss Forestville and I never even knew it existed.

  10. Joanne Fritz says:

    How funny. We drive through Russellville on our way to my father-in-law’s house in Lancaster. I imagine the people in the scattering of houses near that intersection think of their neighborhood as Russellville, even if no businesses exist anymore. I think there’s a church in the area. Same with Homeville, a little farther down 896.

    But there seem to be towns like this all over Pennsylvania (and probably other states). Sounds like a novel idea for you, Dianne!

  11. J E Oneil says:

    They’re still putting up signs? That’s so weird. And a waste. Unless you go back in time a couple of centuries.

  12. Anna says:

    Only old buildings that have been revamped still remain. I love them, but I miss the daily ringing of the clock bell at noon. For some reason they turned it off.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  13. ChemistKen says:

    I used to occasionally drive by Times Beach, Missouri, a town whose soil was found to be full of dioxin back in the 80’s and had to be abandoned. After a decade or two, the vegetation has grown up so much I can’t even tell where it used to be.

  14. I’m sure there are historical leftovers but can’t think of them now. Growing up, a road near my house was called Saunders Ferry Road. I lived on the street next to it and it was a huge part of my life for many years. Ten years ago I said something about it and a coworker said, “SANDERS Ferry Road.” Sure enough, when I drove past it the next time I was in that area of town, there was a new sign. I thought maybe I was crazy! I asked and someone said that they’d realized they’d misnamed it years ago and the ferry it was named after was owned by the Sanders family, but we have a Saundersville Road, so someone had gotten confused, I think? Anyway, they changed the sign and newbies in my hometown call it Sanders Ferry. Old-timers like me will probably always call it Saunders Ferry Road.

  15. MasonAltman says:

    Hi I’ve read all of the eighth day so far I was wondering if you could contact me though my email I have a couple of questions that I would like to ask and one of them is are you writing a fourth book? On the eighth day series?

  16. I haven’t been around long enough to know if we have any historical leftovers, but the road names… Oh the road names! Apparently they didn’t plan Florida very well because you can be driving the same road and within a 2 mile stretch, the name changes 3 times. (No joke.) It’s kind of insane and I wish they’d go through and clean it up, but what can you do? So, if you’re ever in Florida, just use GPS.

  17. Pretty cool that the sign remains long after the towns disappeared. My town has a heavy Native American history, so a lot of things have Native American tribe names, which is pretty cool.

  18. There are probably all kinds of historical leftovers around here somewhere, I just don’t know my area well enough to know about them. >_< But that sign did remind me of the intersection near where I live where two out of the three roads have the exact same name, so you can either go straight or turn right but you're still on that road. Confused the hell out of me when I first showed up.

  19. Totally cool! You could probably even find photos of the old towns, but it is kinda strange the the DOT maintains signs for places that no longer exist.

    Nothing like that here that I know of, but we do have a lot of roads and towns names after old mills and bridges that are long gone,