Originally created 11/27/98

Man looking for every historical marker in Georgia



ATLANTA -- By David Seibert's reckoning, 2,312 historic markers -- noting anything and everything from mysterious prehistoric monuments to Old Dan Tucker's grave -- dot Georgia's highways and byways.

He's personally hunted down 2,253 and plans to continue scouring the state in search of the rest. That means visiting each of Georgia's 159 counties, as well as tackling back-country roads better suited for loggers than tourists.

"Part of the challenge at this point is locating them," said Mr. Seibert, 57, who moved to metro Atlanta from New Orleans in 1975. "I have been down roads in Georgia you have never imagined. In reality, what this does is give me a structure to go exploring....It's a wonderful excuse to go discover Georgia."

Once Mr. Seibert finds a marker, he carefully notes its location and files the information in a list he keeps on his laptop.

Mr. Seibert is not alone in his quest to find the cast-aluminum slices of history.

Harvey Gambrell, 68, who originally just wanted to know a little more about the Civil War, has filled 15 albums with photographs of markers -- a collection that covers 5 feet of shelf space.

"We call ourselves marker nuts," said Ken Boyd, owner of Cherokee Publishing Co. and author of two guidebooks to Georgia historic markers.

Mr. Boyd, 60, who regularly compares notes on marker locations with Mr. Gambrell and Mr. Seibert, has published two of a planned five-book series on Georgia markers.

Both books -- one on markers in coastal counties, the other on markers in mountain counties -- were printed in the early 1990s in editions of about 3,000 and have sold out.

Mr. Boyd said he's planning to publish updates next year and hopes soon to publish his third marker book, listing the markers in metro Atlanta.

Nobody knows exactly how many historical markers dot Georgia's landscape.

State officials put up and maintain about 2,000 markers, including a series marking Civil War sites that follow the path of Union Gen. William T. Sherman's army from the mountains to the sea.

Other organizations as varied as the Garden Clubs of Georgia and the federal Works Progress Administration also put up markers.

The state Department of Natural Resources last year decided to stop installing new markers, but the Georgia Historical Society plans to start erecting new black, white and silver markers next year.

Mr. Seibert said he wants to see them all.

He has grown so dedicated to marker hunting that when he was awaiting a double lung transplant, he would hit the road with an oxygen tank by his side.

After a successful transplant seven years ago, he kept on hunting down markers.

Mr. Gambrell about nine years ago started visiting battlefields near his Cobb County home and reading the markers that chronicle the Atlanta campaign.

He said he believes he has 47 to go before he has chronicled every marker in Georgia.