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'Biggest Patriotic Mural In America' To Be Removed

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A fading mural commemorating the U.S. Bicentennial is slated to be removed, but many want the familiar roadside sight to be saved.

As part of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers modernization project on the Prado Dam in Chino Hills, the 38-year old mural will be removed this spring. The mural was painted in 1976 and designed by two Corona High School students and at one point clearly read "200 Years of Freedom: 1776-1976." But time and graffiti have taken their toll on the artwork, and the material used for the mural doesn't lend itself towards preservation. "When it was originally painted in 1976, they used lead-based paints. We can't risk getting that lead-based paints either into our environment, or our water supply... so the mural does have to come down," David Van Dorpe with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told ABC 7.

The Prado Dam was completed in 1941 for flood control on the Santa Ana River. It has been going through a three-part improvement project for over half a decade, according to the Press Enterprise, and the third-phase involves a heightening of the spillway, on which the a mural is painted. When improvements are done, the dam will have an increased capacity.

"The number one capacity that we have here for the dam is for flood control, that's our primary mission. So if we did have a flood threat we'll make sure that we do have sufficient capacity to handle that flood," said Van Dorpe.

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Removal of the mural will start at the end of April.

However, many locals want the patriotic sight to be saved. For almost 40 years, it was a familiar sight for anyone driving on the 91 freeway through Corona. "It should just be repainted," said Ron Kammeyer, who designed the mural with classmate Perry Schaefer.

"It's the Mount Rushmore of the West. To the best of my knowledge, it's the biggest patriotic mural in the country, Peter Usle told the O.C. Register.

An online petition has already gathered 6,000 signatures. Coronoa High School is hosting a public hearing about the dam on April 9.