Archives » April 29th, 2005

April 29, 2005

C Hill Flag

After years of planning, and much hard work by volunteers, the flag on Carson City’s C Hill has been rebuilt. For those who don’t know the whole story about the flag, it begins, like most stories, at the beginning.

The practice of painting giant letters on hillsides has been around for a hundred years now. Many towns out West have them, usually on the most prominent hill outside of town, and usually made out of whitewashed rocks. Carson City has had a giant ‘C’ on its hill for about eighty years now, and it’s such a local landmark that the mountain has come to be called “C Hill”.

After the September 11th attacks, a group of citizens wanted to do something to show Carson City’s patriotism. Someone suggested building a giant US flag that would sit on the mountainside and keep the ‘C’ company, and the idea was a hit. A team got together to build a wooden frame and put it in place on the mountain, and a huge flag was fashioned out of vinyl and mounted on the wood. The mission was accomplished, and everyone in town could look to the hills to see their flag.

For a while, anyway. About a year after it was built one of our signature windstorms came through town, and ripped the flag to shreds. Just tore it up and scattered it all over the hillside. Obviously the materials it was built out of weren’t up to the challenge of facing the weather we get around here. Almost immediately, people started asking, “What will it take to build a flag that can last?” So another group of volunteers, larger than the first time around, set out to answer that question. Backed by tens of thousands of dollars in donations from the community, they came up with a new design, with an aluminum frame anchored to the ground with concrete. On top of that were 390 panels made of Aluminite making up the flag. This creates a structure that can withstand even the strongest winds.

Most of the year 2004 was spent digging post holes and pouring concrete. There were several setbacks to the project, such as when a huge wildfire swept over C Hill, and when the rope broke on the Chinook helipcopter that was hauling concrete to the flag site. So the completeion date of the project kept getting pushed back further and further.

Then, finally, on April 6th 2005, the frame was finished and they were ready to start installing the panels that made up the actual flag.

At the beginning of April, the flag site looked bare, but the aluminum frame was finished.

A few days later, a bunch of panels had been installed.

Volunteers hard at work with electric drills attaching the panels to the frame with screws.

Finally, on April 21st, the ceremonial “last screw” was placed and the flag was finished. Unlike the last flag, this one isn’t going anywhere for a long time.

Now the ‘C’ and the flag work as a team to watch over Carson City.

I want to take a minute to congratulate and thank everyone who got together to work on the flag. This was strictly a volunteer effort, and it’s amazing to me that something like this can be accomplished through sheer force of will. It shows you what ordinary citizens are capable of.

The group has its own official website at It’s kind of an unfortunate mess of frames, javascript, and crappy HTML. If only they’d put the same effort into the website that they did into the flag itself!

Keep Digging

There aren’t too many jokes out there about civil engineering. But this picture, hanging on the bathroom wall in my office, has always been one of my favorites.

Plate XI: Early Work on the Grand Canyon

The little fellow with the blueprints is my favorite, but I think the two guys trying to move rocks with a stick got the worst job.