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After five years iconic landmark returns to Pocatello’s Red Hill


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POCATELLO (KPVI) — The hills around Pocatello are turning orange, but it isn’t the trees changing color on Red Hill. It’s an iconic landmark — Idaho State University “I.” — that’s returning to Pocatello after a 5-year hiatus.

“This is a restoration of our history,” ISU Associate Vice President Stuart Summers says. “A piece of our history that was there for nearly a century. And so, we wanted it to be as close of a replica as possible.”

The original was removed five years ago due to erosion of the hill, but now after work by ISU, it’s back.

“It’s down to nearly the millimeter of the size and the scale of the “I” that was there before,” Summers says. “It’s the same coloring, as close to the same placement on the hill as we could.”

ISU Civil and Environmental Engineering program students, staff, and alumni worked together to make sure the new 71 feet-long “I” would be meaningful. It’s not quite the “Eye of the Tiger,” but the Bengals’ “I” on Red Hill brings back a sense of pride and history to both ISU and the community.

The design team from ISU wanted to make sure that the history of the “I” continues on for at least another hundred years. One aspect that will last is the color. The “I” isn’t painted, but rather, the metal is that color. Meaning it will never fade.

“It looks like a simple project but it was actually really complicated,” Project Structural Adviser Mustafa Mashal says. “First of all, there was a tremendous amount of erosion on sight and then you’re working on a slope; it was about 34 degrees.”

On that steep slope, the team had to drill 24 anchors three and a half to six feet deep in order to secure the structure to bedrock. All that extra work to make the new “I” last, led to a project cost of $225,000. That cost was necessary for the project to be successful.

“If we were going to go and target the same design as the older “I,” it wasn’t going to last long,” Mashal says.

And with a hundred-year history, lasting long is important for the new “I.”

“People are rallying around what it means to be a Bengal and what it means is a tradition,” Summers says.

The Rice Family Foundation donated $225,000 dollars to cover the cost of the project in honor of ISU’s former Academic Vice President Lawrence Rice.