Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Mesa County leads effort to refurbish state-line marker

A historical marker that was once celebrated at the state line between Colorado and Utah had become a canvas for graffiti, gunshots and other abuse. 

Chunks of concrete had fallen off. The marker's top had been obliterated by a gunshot. 

Mesa County engineers believed the tall, concrete marker only had a couple years before it became a pile of rubble.  

But thanks to the efforts of Mesa County, May's Construction Specialties, Inc., Garry Brewer, the Museum of Western Colorado and the Mesa County Historical Society - led by Commissioner Scott McInnis - the marker will be restored to its original glory.

On Jan. 29, 2015, after much research and planning, McInnis brought a team of county officials and road crew staff out to the marker, which stood on county right-of-way along old Hwy. 6 on the Colorado/Utah state line.

The Mesa County crew after carefully removing the state-line marker from its spot on old Hwy. 50. Commissioner Scott McInnis is on the far right. 
County officials spent hours at the site, carefully removing the marker and transporting it to Grand Junction's Mays Construction Specialties. Mays is donating its employees' time to restore the marker to its original state. 

Once restored, the marker will be placed at the Colorado-Utah state line along Interstate 70. Mesa County is working with the Colorado Department of Transportation on that piece of the project. Other partners include the Bureau of Land Management and the Museum of Western Colorado.

County officials chose to relocate the marker to just off I-70, knowing that if replaced in its former home, vandals would quickly damage it again. Locating the marker by the "Welcome to Colorado" sign on I-70 will once again allow passersby to stop and take their pictures with it, as they did for decades. 

"This is such an important piece of Mesa County history," McInnis said. "We're really excited to see it properly restored, and we are proud to take the lead in restoring this historical marker for our community."

The Public Service Company constructed the marker, which was dedicated on Sept. 25, 1931. People came from across Colorado and Utah for the three-day celebration that included parades, fireworks, dancing, a barbecue, an air show and even a Marx Brothers matinee at The Avalon Theatre. Dignitaries included Colorado Gov. William Adams, Honorable Peter Searle (chairman of the Colorado State Highway Advisory Board) and Honorable Henry H. Blood (Utah State Road Commission Chair).
Officials dedicate the marker at the Colorado/Utah state line on Sept. 25, 1931. That's Colorado Gov. William Adams on the right, closest to the marker. 
Today, leaders involved in the restoration plan to make blueprints of the marker, so an exact replica can be created if so desired by the State of Utah.

The marker is not available for public viewing while it is under restoration. A ceremony will be held - and the community will be invited - when it has been placed in its new home.

The marker had become a canvas for graffiti and gunshots. 
Here's what it looks like today, mid-restoration.
Scott McInnis, left, and Kyle Vanderberg of May's Construction Specialties Inc., talk about the restoration on Sept. 30, 2015. 

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