Today in Transportation History – 1937: The Passing of a True Trailblazer

Alojz Knafelc, who created a now-iconic marker for hiking trails, died at the age of 77 in the city of Ljubljana in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (in a region that is now part of the Republic of Slovenia). Knafelc had been born in 1859 in the village of Šmihel in a section of modern-day Slovenia that was known at the time as the Duchy of Carniola.

Knafelc became an avid mountaineer. In addition, he established himself at a young age as an expert cartographer in his part of the world; one of his major projects involved mapping out the route for a railway built between the settlements of Hrpelje and Kozina.

It was through his experiences as a mountaineer and cartographer that Knafelc developed a strong appreciation for the importance of well-marked symbols for those walking on long-distance paths in his homeland. Consequently, he created a distinctive design to place on trees along major trails to help guide mountaineers and other hikers and ensure that they did not take any accidental and potentially dangerous detours en route.

220px-Markacija.svgThis design, which is known today as the Knafelc Blaze, consists of a white dot inside a red ring. The Knafelc Blaze was formally adopted for trails in that region of Eastern Europe in 1922, and – more than nine decades later – it not only remains very much in use there but has become one of Slovenia’s most prominent and popular emblems both domestically and internationally.

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