“Signs, signs, everywhere signs; blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind.”
–Lyrics to the song “Signs” by Five Man Electrical Band
Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area (AMNHA) will soon be getting new signs, but they’re unlikely to be thought of as blocking out the scenery or breaking anyone’s mind. They are specifically designed to blend seamlessly into an environment created more than 400 million years ago.
The signs will be located along Arabia Mountain PATH (AMP) trailheads as well as additional destinations within the heritage area such as Vaughters’ Farm, Flat Rock Archives and the city of Lithonia. Each location will have site-specific signs designed and produced to assist and educate visitors regarding points of interest within the heritage area.
Also located within the heritage area are Davidson-Arabia Nature Preserve, Panola Mountain State Park, Monastery of the Holy Spirit, AWARE wildlife rehabilitation center and miles of biking and hiking trails that weave through parts of DeKalb, Henry and Rockdale counties.
Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance Executive Director Mera Cardenas explained the connections between the sign designs and the heritage area saying “We wanted to represent both the past and the present in the sign design. The past—the area’s granite history—is represented in the rough-hewn quarried stone. This area was once a center of technological innovation. That element is reflected in the more modern, natural patina of the corten steel lending an industrial look to the signs. It’s also a material that current visitors see in the bridges along the Arabia Mountain PATH.”
Stones to be used to construct the signage were donated by Lithonia-based quarry Hanson Aggregates Southeast. The massive slabs of granite will be used for the gateway structures and entrance signs. Some of the slabs will feature drill marks used to help break the large sections from the outcroppings of granite that appear throughout the area. Still other pieces of granite may feature mining artifacts that have been embedded into the granite for centuries. Hanson also will be providing specialized equipment and personnel to assist with the construction and installation of the signage.
According to Cardenas, the signage program concepts were developed several years ago to enhance the experiences of “tourists, adventure seekers and history enthusiasts” who visit the AMNHA annually. Cardenas estimated that there are 125,000 visitors annually to AMNHA but also clarified that since the area is such an open space with numerous access points, it is difficult to gauge the actual number of visitors.
The firm chosen to coordinate the design and look of the signage, Signature Design, has developed a series of signage that plays homage to the granite and somewhat less refined environment of AMNHA by not polishing or cutting any more than is necessary to achieve the final look.
Cardenas said “We are awaiting scheduling with the construction company and the quarry, since they are providing equipment and construction expertise. We hope to have the first kiosk and set of signs complete by summer 2017.”
“The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area is an open landscape of breathtaking beauty, peace and wonder. Come feed your soul, explore natural wonders and discover compelling cultural history in the National Heritage Area,” said Angela Walton, director of marketing for Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance
Partners collaborating on the signage project include DeKalb County, city of Lithonia, Stonecrest Business Alliance, and Hanson Aggregates Southeast which donated a portion of the granite materials.