Feb 6, 2007

Mountain monogram on schedule

by Amy Field, Asst. News Editor

Over the past few months, Liberty students have watched LU’s monogram, piece by piece, appear on a nearby mountain. As a round, thickly forested area was cleared out and has now evolved to an L and a U design, among the most frequently asked questions is,  “What in the world is going on up there?” 

When workers cleared the area for the monogram, they cut all the trees by hand because of the extreme slope of the land making it too hard for cutting machinery to do the work. Then, landscaping fabric was laid down in advance of the rock and plants. The initials of the university will be created with red brick chips on a contrasting background of white gabion stone.

“What we’re going to do is fill in the L and the U with the brick so they’ll stay red all year round,” said Lee Beaumont, Director of Auxiliary Services. Japanese Barberry and other flowering plants will outline the lettering. The process making the initial design of the monogram into a reality may be one of the most challenging projects Liberty has embarked upon recently.

“It’s a process that includes different staging areas, places where dump trucks will haul their loads of rocks and unload them,” said Beaumont.

“Workers with machinery take the rocks from the staging areas and move them to the correct areas.”

Although the process might sound simple, the recent weather has been making work a bit more exciting.

“Conditions must be perfect in order for workers to continue their construction of the monogram,” said Beaumont.

“That’s why it takes so long, because it has to be extremely dry. If it rains once, it takes days and days of sunlight and warmer weather, since the wetness freezes at that altitude.”

Workers have been out in 20-degree weather, often with bitter wind chill, but they still work from 8 a.m. to the late afternoon.

Because the workers are doing the construction at such a steep angle with heavy machinery, they are in danger of sliding down the side of the hill if conditions are not right.

“These dump trucks are just carrying the (lighter) brick chips now, but when they carry the white rocks, they weigh about eight tons,” said Beaumont.

“We have to keep blading the road (up here) with our bulldozers because the trucks put big ruts in it. They’re so heavy.”

Dump trucks full of stones from Appomattox and bricks from Salem reach the top of the monogram’s hill and unload a thundering avalanche of rocks at staging areas almost every two hours.

“(Bricks) that aren’t hard enough are crushed up and sold as brick chips,” explained Richard Thompson, the president of Thompson Trucking, Inc., the company that is hauling the materials for Liberty up to the top of the mountain.

The entire time it takes for a truck to make the journey to Lynchburg, navigate up the compacted dirt road to the top of the monogram, unload and then return to Appomattox takes around two hours.
When university officials began planning the monogram, they took many things into consideration to make the project the best that it could be.

“We deliberately picked the steepest part of the mountain facing the city, because that gives you the best view,” said Beaumont.

“If you look at it from the Wachovia (Bank) parking lot, you can see it head-on. You get a great view of it.”

The hilltop will also be a part of a new trail renovation project, benefiting students.

“We’re going to improve existing logging roads — we’re going to make a Liberty Mountain trail system,” said Beaumont. “We might gravel a few roads, but we’ll create mountain bike trails and running trails.” 

 Young trees will be planted when the rest of the monogram is complete, staggered around the perimeter of the monogram, said Beaumont, just to “fill things in a bit so you can still see it.”
The diameter of the monogram is 530 feet, almost twice the size of a football field. The L and U are both 150 feet long.

Jerry Falwell Jr. was inspired by the other schools’ mountain monograms he saw while in Utah last summer.

“In Salt Lake City, a huge “Y” for Brigham Young University is etched on the face of the Wasatch Mountain Range overlooking the city,” said Falwell Jr. He is pleased with the progress of Liberty’s logo and how the monogram looks.

“Once lights are installed and the plants have matured, I think the monogram will become the identifying landmark for both Liberty and the Lynchburg area — just as the Mill Mountain Star is for Roanoke.”

** Correction: The "Y" for Brigham Young University is actually facing Provo, Utah, not Salt Lake City. **

Contact Amy Field at afield@liberty.edu.
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