It’s not easy saving history

Old Timberland sign being removed
Published: Nov. 13, 2023 at 5:58 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The Timberland neighborhood has homes that date back to the 1930s. That’s when utilities made their way there. Before that the area was a campground.

Vicki Railton’s grandfather purchased a summer cabin here in the 1950s.

“Every summer,” says Railton.” My mom came up here as a child. Our family would use it every summer”.

A sign reading “Timberland” placed on the edge of the neighborhood went up in the 1930s. But by 2020, Railton says it was looking pretty rough.

“It was going to fall down, if it wasn’t taken down,” she says. Railton says she wasn’t going to let that happen.

She went to Placer County and obtained permits. They told her she would need an engineer, excavator, and follow strict guidelines to not only take the sign down but replace it. Instead of a tree trunk placed in six feet of ground with some concrete, the new sign would be reinforced with rebar and concrete, and a base moved over slightly to miss the gas lines installed well after the 1930s.

By this time Railton looked at her checkbook and realized she had already spent $17,000 dollars, and there was still no sign.

“I reached out to all of the neighbors and sent a letter early August of 2022,” says Railton. “And I hope I don’t start crying, but within 8 months, I was reimbursed, and we were fully funded.”

The base of the sign and the sign itself would come from a large cedar on her property that needed to come down as it was too close to utility lines.

Once cut to the proper specifications, the sign was transported to Truckee for lettering. The post at 18-feet would mean the entire sign weighed in at about one ton.

The installation didn’t happen overnight.

Cal Trans and the county would disagree on who had jurisdiction and shut down the project more than once. The project was put on hold in May of 2021 when an endangered flying squirrel made a home for her babies in the old sign’s post.

In October of this year, roughly three years for an idea to become reality, the new “Timberland” sign was officially installed in about three hours.

“I knew if my grandparents were alive and if my dad was alive, they would absolutely restore the sign,” says Railton. “I was crying. I was a mess. Then watching it being put in its place and being put back in, it was pretty emotional.”

The new “Timberland” marker was put into place one day before the Placer County permits expired. What was one of many signs for Railton in her three-year journey to rehabilitate the last remaining landmark of its kind on the west shore of Lake Tahoe.

The sign was put up in October, too late for some of her seasonal neighbors to see. That’s why Railton is planning a big party for everyone, next spring.