‘C’ on C Hill puts on a happy face for all to see | NevadaAppeal.com

‘C’ on C Hill puts on a happy face for all to see

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Carson City residents were greeted with a smile Thursday as the "C" on C Hill was transformed to a smiley face by sometime overnight.

What do you get when you fill in the open side of the letter “C” then put two eyes and a big smile inside?

For the answer, look up on the hill to the west of Carson City.

That’s right, the “C” which has overlooked the capital for 80-plus years is now a smiley face.

Someone was not only bored enough but energetic enough to climb the hill during the night Wednesday and, with a bit of labor and some white paint, rearrange things.

The “C” was painted with a durable paint about a year ago, which has lasted much better than the traditional whitewash. That followed the construction of the enameled steel American flag above the “C.”

This spring, the class of 2007 put “07” inside the “C.”

Wednesday’s rearrangement wasn’t announced beforehand.

Gil Ayarbe, one of the organizers of the effort to put a permanent flag on the hillside, described the reworked “C” as “cute.” He said at least no one defaced the flag.

No one was available at Carson High School to say whether an event would be organized to turn the smiley face back into a “C.”

The exact origin of the “C” isn’t known, but historians have confirmed it was on the hill by the early 1920s, put there and maintained by high school students. According to the book “Hillside Letters A to Z,” student athletes traditionally supervised the whitewashing of the “C” by freshmen and sophomores on Block C Day each year.

State Archivist Guy Rocha wrote in his Myth a Month series the letters were first and foremost symbols of community and school pride, not – as some believed – as a means for early pilots to identify the community they were flying over.

Rocha said the history of most such symbols in Nevada can be pinned down, but not the “C” which has eluded area historians.

UNR students constructed a block “N” April 13, 1913, near Peavine Peak overlooking the Truckee Meadows. He said the first high school letter recorded was the Elko “E” constructed in 1916, followed by the “T” overlooking Tonopah High School in 1917.

Carson City got its second school letter, an “S” for the Stewart Indian School in 1934.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.