Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
PLEASANT GROVE — The iconic "G" that has been a landmark in Pleasant Grove and Utah County for decades isn't what it used to be, and the community is rallying to restore it.
It's the only view from this side of Little Mountain that residents have ever known. And over the years, it's become part of their home.
"Home is definitely where the 'G' is," said Lisa Young, who grew up in Pleasant Grove. When her family flies into town for a visit, they tell her, "We know when we're home because we see the 'G' on the mountain."
"It just means so much to all of us here in Pleasant Grove," said Mayor Guy Fugal. "And it has quite a history to it, and people don't realize that."
In 1920, the principal at Pleasant Grove High School gave his students a choice to put a "G" up at the school or on the mountain. At the time, the school mascot was the Grovarians, and the students chose to put their school pride symbol on the side of the mountain.
Dozens of students gathered rocks to form the letter, and over the years, it became a tradition for them to maintain it.
According to the Pleasant Grove Historic Preservation Commission, the "G" almost disappeared in 1978 as some wanted it removed to preserve the mountainside. But citizen groups saved the letter and airlifted concrete to the spot to make it permanent. They added steel mesh and aluminum strips eight years later.
Over the years, the trail to the letter has drawn countless visitors, wanting to get a closer look at the landmark and soak up the view of the valley.
"It's a little steep," Young said. "But, you know what, anything hard in the end is worth it, right? The 'G' is worth it."
But the closer you get to the letter today, the clearer it becomes that the "G" isn't what it was 40 years ago. Plants are cutting through the steel mesh, cracks in the concrete perimeter, and erosion exposes the rebar holding it up, leaving a large gap between the concrete and the dirt.
Young approached Fugal and told him, "We really don't want this to happen on our watch. We want to make sure we're taking care of this."
With Young's help, the city created a committee that includes students from the high school.
"They have ownership of it, and we want them to buy into it because our generation has and the generation above us, and now we want the next generation," she said. "We want them to know it was built on the backs of all of our alumni. We're all alumni, and now we need to carry that torch."
The plan to restore the "G" includes strengthening the concrete perimeter and tearing out the old material to replace it with gunite, similar to what makes up Brigham Young University's "Y" on Y Mountain.
They also want to install LED lights powered by solar panels. Currently, they light the "G" on special occasions with a gas-powered generator. Students hike up the mountain to lay out the lights after winning a championship, for example.
"There's a lot of work that needs to be done. It's no small project," Fugal said. And the price tag isn't small either.
There's a lot of work that needs to be done. It's no small project.
–Pleasant Grove Mayor Guy Fugal
All of the materials would need to be transported by helicopter. The initial estimated cost for the materials, transportation and work was more than $1 million.
Fugal said they've managed to bring that amount to around $700,000 with the help of contractors and others who agreed to give their services at a discounted rate.
The city and high school are currently collecting donations*, and they are already getting volunteers to help with the work.
"The 'G''s not coming off the mountain," Young said. "Not during our watch. We're going to take care of it."
Young said the community and students are already rallying around the cause to restore — what is to them — part of home.
"We really want to make it so that it will stay there for another 100 years," Fugal said.
He says the U.S. Forest Service owns the land. They are working on submitting their request, and they expect to get the approval they need to start and wrap up the project this fall.
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