Great Wall of Coarsegold demolition begins

FRESNO, Calif.

Residents call it "The Great Wall of Coarsegold," a large obstruction to the gold rush town's natural beauty. Many Coarsegold residents were worried about the safety of drivers who pass by it on Highway 41.

Michele Wisenor loves to entertain and said one of the reasons she and her family moved into their Coarsegold home was because of the view from their front yard. But over the last few years Wisenor said every time she and her guests look down they are confronted with, "a crumbling wall, a safety issue and in the winter time we really watch it because all it takes is one hard rain to dislodge and bring it down."

The three-tiered brick barricade was built back in 2004 as a retaining wall for the storage facility that sits on top of the hill.

"When it first went up, it looked stable. We weren't sure what the entire scope of the building on top was going to be and once it was in and once we moved up on top of the mountain, we could see it was very overpowering," Wisenor said.

Residents quickly dubbed it "The Great Wall of Coarsegold" and grew increasingly frustrated after the hillside began to erode. Lawsuits were followed and the owners filed for bankruptcy, delaying demolition.

Action News Reporter: How long have you been staring at that thing?

"Oh for years. At least eight years that I know of," Denice Busse with farmers insurance said. "It's one of the first things you see when you come to Coarsegold and rather than see the fun things that might be happening that's what you see so I'll be happy when it's not an eyesore any longer."

The wall is finally coming down. On Monday crews began moving in heavy equipment and prepared the site for demolition. They will begin with the unused storage building above the highest tier first - and then work their way down to the wall next week. They will eventually removing the retainer and restoring the hillside to its natural state.

"It'll be nice now when we're out here at the pool in the summer time not to have to see this," Wisenor said.

Crews say the work should be completed within about a month - weather permitting. For now protective barriers will remain in place around the wall to prevent bricks from tumbling into highway.

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