Photo: Headstone from Negro Hill

Headstones like this one are causing a controversy in the city of Folsom about whether the "N" word should be removed from them.

New gravestone markers for a controversial cemetery could be made by Californian inmates.

The California Prison Industry Authority has offered to make and install replacement markers for the Mormon Island Cemetery.

The gravestones currently read “Unknown, moved from Nigger Hill Cemetery” and there have been efforts to change the wording on the stones. The graves were moved from a cemetery in the town of Negro Hill just before Folsom Dam flooded the area in the 1950’s.

El Dorado County was presented with the Prison Industry Authority’s plan Thursday. If approved, inmates would make the replacement stones, remove the old ones, replace them and then install a sign explaining the situation for future generations at no cost to the county.

A Boy Scout from Troop 645 brought the issue up a few years ago, and even secured funding to replace the 36 controversial stones by receiving a $20,000 grant. However, the process was stopped for a variety of reasons, mainly because no one was quite sure who had jurisdiction over the Mormon Island Cemetery and the gravestones.

The Army Corps of Engineers released documents about the 1954 project to move the graves and burial plots for Folsom Dam a few days ago. However, it is not clear why the wording on the 36 stones was changed to “Nigger Hill” instead of where they were actually moved from, “Negro Hill”. 

If you would like to read the Army Corps’ documents, click here

The Army Corps of Engineers supports the California Prison Industry Authority’s plan, and it now awaits discussion and approval of the County Board. John Knight, who represents the area of El Dorado County the cemetery sits in, says he has not heard about this latest plan. He says he and others have been working on solutions, and would be open to learning more about the California Prison Industry Authority’s offer.