Signs of many places.
February 21, 2012 10:50 AM   Subscribe

Where can I learn about the history of US national forest signs? I've seen this style all over the country, so I'm wondering when and where the decision was made.
posted by curious nu to Law & Government (7 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The Forest History Society will know the answer as they're the official repository for USDA ephemera. They, and their enormous collection, are housed at Duke University and they've been helpful to me in the past. THere's an online index to the collection you can consult as well as various research materials. From you post I can't tell if you're referring to the FS shield or Maggie's perch, but either way the terms you may need include "symbols" and "insignia" rather than "sign." Good luck, and post the answer, please!
posted by carmicha at 11:58 AM on February 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think curious nu is referring to that unmistakable, sort of retro "font" used on Forest Service signs in the US. This is a great question, I've wondered about that too.
posted by jayder at 12:50 PM on February 21, 2012

Response by poster: I mean the thing the dog is perched on, that odd trapezoid, and most of them also have that flat-topped stone tower thing as well. I'll ask about the font as well, though!
posted by curious nu at 1:07 PM on February 21, 2012

According to this Forest History Society page on Wendelin Rudolph, he might be responsible for the National Forest Sign(s).
posted by filthy light thief at 2:59 PM on February 21, 2012

I don't know about the rest of the sign, but "Land of Many Uses" is in the (formerly) standard federal highway signage typeface: "Highway Gothic."
posted by stopgap at 4:54 PM on February 21, 2012

I love the scripty font. If you find one that looks like that, curious nu, please post it here.
posted by bink at 7:58 PM on February 21, 2012

Response by poster: Got a reply courtesy of Cheryl Oakes, a librarian/archivist at the Forest History Society:

"[...]Other folks have wondered about this as well although not much has been written. I believe the credit for the design of the type of sign you saw should go to Virgil R. “Bus” Carrell. We were sent a copy of a note about his work a couple of years ago (see attached pdf). The same gentleman wrote a newsletter article for the Forest Service Retirees of the Pacific Northwest Region at: (page 3)

Mr. Carrell wrote a brief article about his quest for just the right look at:
It appeared in the Yearbook of Agriculture. 1967. p. 253-256.

There is now a very detailed set of guidelines for creating and using signs in the Forest Service. The page about forest signs, shape, and wording is at:"

Said attached file says pretty much the same thing as in the newsletter link; the broad answer to the question is Virgil R. "Bus" Carrell. I'll probably dig around a bit more and see if I can find who else might've been part of the decision.
posted by curious nu at 2:14 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

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