About LandmarkHunter.com

This website is a companion to Bridgehunter.com, focusing on historic or notable landmarks of all kinds. While looking for historic bridges over the last decade, I've seen many interesting places. All too often, I didn't bother to stop and take photos, only to return a few years later and discover that the landmark had been obliterated by the march of "progress" to make room for a parking lot.

I've left the definition of "landmark" somewhat vague. Basically, a landmark is a place that is "interesting" in some way, distinguished by its history, uniqueness, conspicuousness, notoriety, or beauty. The bar is not particularly high -- certainly not as high as the National Register of Historic Places. However, I don't want this site to turn into Waymarking.com with many trivial categories like "Starbucks Locations" and "Coin Operated Self Service Car Washes."

Departments

To kick off the site, I imported almost all listings from the National Register of Historic Places as well as some of the more notable items from the GNIS placenames database maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey. The listings fall into these general departments adapted from NRHP and GNIS terminology:

  • Buildings: Structures intended to shelter some sort of human activity. These are usually private houses (by far the largest category on the NRHP), but also churches, schools, factories, theaters, hospitals, etc.

  • Structures: Man-made construction intended for a function other than sheltering human activity. This is a fairly wide open definition ranging including such things as fire towers, bridges, military fortifications, dams, ships, aircraft, power plants, "world's largest something or other" roadside attractions, and more.

  • Objects: Relatively small-scale things. Includes monuments, works of art, and signs.

  • Site: Catch-all for historic places that don't include any of the above. This is typically the location of a major historical event, but where little remains (except, perhaps, for historic markers). Also includes the locations of ruined buildings and structures, as well as archaeological sites.

  • District: These are National Register "historic districts" where multiple properties in close proximity are grouped together. This is somewhat of a gray area because districts often have individual properties that stand out as landmarks on their own. Listing all of these separately, however, might be impractical.

  • Natural feature: Scenic attraction, often the centerpiece of a park or conservation area. Includes waterfalls, natural arches, scenic overlooks, prominent mountains, and rock formations.

  • Placename: Named location shown on maps, typically the location of a "populated place" (town or settlement), but could also be the name for a point on a railroad line (switch, flagstop, junction, etc.). These placenames usually have a story behind them and will linger on maps long after the original purpose has ended.

On each county listing page, you have the option of hiding and showing the different departments to make it easier to browse the landmarks.

Categories

The departments above are further divided into categories. Each landmark fits into exactly one category, such as Lighthouse or Hotel. The National Register doesn't have very specific categories, so I had to cheat a little when importing the data, resorting to generic catch-all categories like Building or Miscellaneous. Go to the main Categories page to browse the differnt choices.

Tags

To provide more flexibility than categories, each landmark can be "tagged" with many different keywords and topics. The Browse menu shows the range of tags, including:

  • Architectural styles - These were taken from National Register terminology, but more can be added.
  • Builders - Engineers, architects, and contractors involved with design, construction, and renovations of the landmark
  • People - Famous (or perhaps not-so-famous) people associated with the landmark.
  • Owners - Federal, state or local agency that currently maintains the landmark, if it isn't privately owned
  • Cities - Municipalities where the landmark is located
  • Year - Year, decade, and century when the landmark was built
  • NR groups - Names of "Multiple Property Submissions" from the National Register in which the properties share a common theme (these are different from Historic Districts in that the properies are individually listed and don't need to be in close proximity)
  • Other - Wide-open assortment of tags. These can be easily added by users with editor's accounts.

Geography

The site is generally laid out by state, then by county, and finally by individual landmarks. Counties make for a reasonably good method of grouping landmarks together. (Landmarks are also tagged by city, but that leaves out many rural landmarks, plus the boundaries of cities are constantly changing.)

Unfortunately, the rules for what is considered a "county" can vary by state, with lots of oddities. Here is a quick rundown of the exceptions:

  • Louisiana: Parishes
  • Alaska: Boroughs and "Census Areas"
  • Missouri: Independent city of St. Louis is separate from St. Louis County
  • Maryland: Independent city of Baltimore is separate from Baltimore County
  • Nevada: Carson City is separate from surrounding counties
  • Virginia: A large collection of independent cities are separate from surrounding counties
  • New York: The five boroughs of New York City are considered counties (but some of the county names are different than the borough names)
  • District of Columbia: For convenience, the city of Washington is treated as a county

Disclaimer: While county boundaries are usually permanent, some changes have happened in recent decades (especially in Virginia with its frustrating system of independent cities). Since the documention from the National Register is rarely updated beyond the initial nomination, some listings on this site may be shown in the wrong county.