York city employee Harry Frey paints part of the Keystone Marker for York city. The markers are scattered across Pennsylvania, and some have been around
York city employee Harry Frey paints part of the Keystone Marker for York city. The markers are scattered across Pennsylvania, and some have been around for nearly a century. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS--JASON PLOTKIN)

York city's director of public works went looking for a sign.

Jim Gross and his crew found it, he said, along the side of the road on East Prospect Street, right near the city line. It had been hiding there for years in plain sight.

"It's one of those things, I guess you just don't pay a lot of attention to it," Gross said on Thursday.

That old cast-iron "York" sign, known like others across the state as a Keystone Marker, has been planted there for years, Gross said. The city got involved only recently, after the mayor's office received a call from the Keystone Marker Trust.

That group works to preserve the markers, which were first created by the Pennsylvania Department of Highways just after World War I, according to the group's website. Keystone Markers were likely installed between the 1920s and early 1940s, according to a history on the site.

The name of the manufacturer is on many of the old signs, including the one in York, which was made by Carlisle Foundry Co.

Gross said crews will clean up and repaint both the sign and the metal pole on which it's mounted. The process should take about a week or two.

"It was in pretty bad shape," he said.

There is minimal cost involved, Gross said, and the project is an interesting one. The sign is a unique piece of times gone by.

"To the best of my knowledge," he said, "it's the only one like it in the city."

'This Marker Matters'

For more information about Keystone Markers, and about the This Marker Matters campaign to raise awareness about the old signs, visit www.keystonemarkertrust.org.

@timstonesifer; 771-2032