The sun and wind are at your back, eerie shadows from your bike grow long as night nears and then, as you round a turn, there it is, on the hillside glowing and looking down on you-a giant letter “H.” It booms, “We are here, we survived!” What does it mean?
The giant letters are everywhere in the United States, but most are found west of the Rocky Mountains. Hardy souls braved the land and elements to settle there. Many towns didn’t survive. A giant letter is an initial of the town’s name built on a prominent hill in celebration of survival. Built from boulders, loose rocks or concrete, the letter stands, as a guardian angel, to watch over the town. No matter which town, no matter how great the struggle, the giant letter seems to shout in a combined voice for all who lived and worked there, “Hooray, we are here, we survived.” For tiny Calico, California the letter stands in silence for the many ghosts of silver miners long gone. Are those miners still here in Calico?
Schools love big letters, especially if they are on a mountain. The largest “M” in the country, located on Colorado’s Mt. Zion, started out as an exercise in descriptive geometry. Students and faculty, supported by a burro supply train, constructed the letter to appear “undistorted from any angle of view”-quite a feat in 1908! Over the years school letters take on a life of their own, complete with traditions. These traditions usually involve seniors persuading freshmen to do things other than study. Everyone knows that a giant letter out in the weather needs maintenance, a fresh coat of whitewash or paint, or perhaps 1,000 pounds of new rock-one rock at a time.
Seeing the giant letters is one thing since most are built to be admired from afar; actually getting to them is another matter. Very few have roads for visitors. Some are fenced and posted with no trespassing signs, but others require the services of a burro or, at the very least, a good pair of hiking boots.
Each giant letter has a story to tell-a story about people, a story about sacrifice, a story about accomplishment, a story about pride. You will discover more about our country as you learn the story behind each letter. Early settlers will ride with you on your motorcycle quest to visit their giant letters.
A, B, C, D, E, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P,Q, S, T, W, Y and Z are represented on the hills. Where are F, R, U, V and X?
To learn more about this motorcycle tour and many others including GPS and printable file downloads, please visit Journey America Motorcycling Patches at http://www.JourneyAmericaPatches.com