When I was growing up, my family made many trips down the 91 Freeway from our home in Orange County to visit my grandparents in Riverside. I remember it as a long, boring drive, usually with too much traffic and not much to look at. Of course, this was in the days before smartphones, iPads, and DVD players, so there wasn’t much for a kid to do except look out the window or sleep. I always enjoyed seeing the Prado Dam Mural, as it was a patriotic symbol of civic pride, and a celebration of a once-in-a-lifetime event.
If you, too, have had the opportunity to traverse the 91 Freeway, you have likely seen the Prado Dam Mural. Originally painted in 1976 by 25 students from Corona High School, the mural commemorates the United States Bicentennial of 1776. Standing approximately 106 feet high and 2,280 feet long, the mural reads, “200 Years of Freedom: 1776-1976.” About 300,000 cars pass by it each day.
Sadly, the mural has fallen into disrepair due to old age and graffiti, and is in desperate need of refurbishing.
Groups like the Boy Scouts have offered to repaint the mural, but the Army Corps of Engineers has turned down their requests, supposedly due to lead-based paint in the mural. They have previously stated plans to strip off the mural by spring 2015, and are ambivalent as to whether the old mural should be repainted or a new mural be selected instead.
A petition to save the mural was started about 4 months ago:
We the Petitioners respectfully request the Army Corps Of Engineers to accept this proposal to coordinate an independent vintage restoration of the Prado Dam Bicentennial Mural. This will be In the tradition of it’s original 1976 volunteers. As the Army Corps Of Engineers has stated over the last 20 years, the only thing stopping this symbol of inspiration and patriotism from being repainted has been the issue of lead in the paint. Where as now there is a system in place to remove the lead, we hold the Corps to their historical commitment to restoration. We look forward to working with the Corps and Representative Calvert on all matters of • Fundraising • paint • anti graffiti coating • colors used • materials • and a mechanism in place for future repairs.
As of this writing, almost 6,000 people have signed the petition.
Thanks to public outcry, the Army Corps of Engineers has offered to hold a public meeting about the mural’s future on April 9, 2015, 6:00 p.m., at the Corona High School Performing Arts Center, 1154 Tenth Street. The public is invited to provide comments at this meeting.
How can you help?
Please help save this 40-year-old California icon.