From Academic Kids

A Spanish kilometre stone
A Spanish kilometre stone
Missing image
Missing image
Slate milestone near Bangor, Wales

A milestone or kilometre sign is one of a series of numbered markers placed along a road at regular intervals, typically at the side of the road or in a median. The historical term milestone is still used today, even though the "stones" are typically metal signs. The Milepost is also the name of a publication about the Alaska Highway. More closely spaced signs, with fractional numbers, and signs along a railway or beach also occur.

Milestones are constructed both to reassure the traveler that the proper path is being followed and to indicate distance travelled. They are alternately known as a mile marker, milepost, or mile post (sometimes abbreviated MP), notably in the United States.

In Europe the distance measured typically starts at a city or town, as many roads were named for the towns at either end. In the UK, a plaque near the Eleanor Cross at Charing Cross in London is the reference point from which distances to other towns and cities are measured. In the US Interstate highway system the numbers usually measure the distance to the southern or western state line, while other highways use the county line as the benchmark. Often, the exits are numbered according to the nearest milepost, known as the mile-log system. Some historic and scenic routes use mileposts to mark points of interest, such as along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and Virginia, and the Overseas Highway of the Florida Keys.

 in Washington
Zero Milestone in Washington

Milestones were originally stone (granite or marble or whatever local stone was available) obelisks and later concrete posts. They were widely used by the Roman Empire roadbuilders, an important part of any Roman road network when the distance travelled per day was only a few miles in some cases. The first Roman milestones appeared on the Appian way. At the center of Rome the "Golden Milestone" (actually bronze) was erected that marked the metaphorical center of the empire. This milestone has since been lost. The Golden Milestone inspired the Zero Milestone in Washington, D.C., intended as the point from which all road distances in the United States should be reckoned.

Metaphorically, milestone is used to denote reaching an identifiable stage in completion of something other than a physical journey, as in project management, world events, and the like.

External links

Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities] with further links, including to a photograph of a Roman milestone in Orvieto


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