A Monumental Project Honors Portola
by Katherine Drake
An engraved monument weighing three tons was hauled up to Sweeney Ridge on a flatbed truck Thrusday morning, carefully hoisted and then lowered into a permanent foundation.
"From this ridge," reads the hand-carved inscription," the Portola Expedition discovered San Francisco Bay Nov. 4, 1769."
The monument, which represents about $3000 worth of effort, will be dedicated Saturday, Nov. 1, the day of the annual hike to the Portola Discovery Site and the 206th anniversary of the historic event.
The new marker was carved by Mark Fontana of V. Fontana and Co. in Colma, son of Elio Fontana, former Jefferson high school district trustee and now a member of the county board of education.
Mark, who divides his time between his father's business and the Broadmoor police department, spent two whole days on the deep "v-sunk" letters. "He did a beautiful job!" said Carl McCarthy, vice-president of the Portola Expedition Foundation.
Mark and Pete Masnada, a longtime Fontana employee, spent the
better part of Thursday installing the huge slab of stone, part of a five-ton boulder that came from a San Jose quarry. The marker is secured by reinforced steel rods and sits in a three-foot deep concrete foundation.
"It's as permanent as it can be," says Mark.
The two men built scaffolding around the hole before lifting the huge rock from the truck. "One slip-up," says Mark, "and we would have destroyed the whole thing!"
The Portola Expedition Foundation is paying $500 of the cost of the monument and the county parks and recreation department another $500. The remainder represents a contribution from the Fontanas.
McCarthy says the foundation's goal is to have the 18-acre discovery site, which is owned by the county and maintained by the city, declared a national historic monument.
For those unable to walk up to the site Nov. 1 there will also be a car caravan. Hikers and riders should meet at Crespi School on Fassler Avenue at 10 a.m. There will be a 15-minute slide show on the Portola Expedition; departure for the ridge will be at 10:30.