Nearly three months ago, during the first week of March, the Observer brought you the story of a lonely historical marker in Llano that was targeted by vandals. The state of Texas provides no money to pay for repairs to its historical markers, leaving the costs to the counties where the signs are located.
On Tuesday, thanks to donations from the public, the Texas Historical Society finally repaired the marker, laid on the spot where Texas forces fought American Indians on Packsaddle Mountain.
Fixing historical markers, especially the granite markers that the legislature ordered placed around the state to celebrate the Texas Centennial in 1936, is no small feat. While many of the metal historical plaques that dot the Texas landscape can be repaired cheaply, fixing graffitied granite markers can cost upwards of $10,000. That's 10 times more than the Llano County historical commission's annual budget.
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Texas Historical Commission workers cleaned the marker in March, but the sign retained enough of the original graffiti that officials feared the outline of "White History Celebrates Genocide" might be permanently stained on the granite. To remedy the problem, the historical commission brought in conservator Robert Marshall, who began a two-day job restoring the monument last Monday night.
Marshall sprayed a product known as "elephant snot" on the marker, which caused the remaining paint to saponify, or turn into soap. The next day, Marshall cleaned almost all traces of the paint off of the marker, removed the damaged bronze wreath from the granite and installed a new wreath and star.
“Marker restoration projects like this wouldn’t be possible without the support of people across the state who cherish Texas history,” says Chris Florance, spokesman for the Texas Historical Commission, of the restoration of the Packsaddle Mountain sign.
In March, as the county grappled with what to with the damaged sign, Llano County Judge Mary Cunningham explained why fixing the sign was important. "It has historic significance as well. It’s not like you can just go out and get a new one," Cunningham said. "I’m all for freedom of expression but not destroying property. It’s infuriating,”