Iconic sign at The Ahwahnee in Yosemite National Park returns after being stolen

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (KFSN) -- First impressions never fade.

Generations of families remember Yosemite as it was, down to the smallest detail.

The return of a sign atop the gatehouse outside The Ahwahnee helps visitors come full circle.

"We're getting all kinds of visitors that are going by just like, wow," says Yosemite National Park Spokesperson Scott Gediman. "This is so important and my first thought when I saw the sign was like, it just belongs here."

In March of 2016, the original sign was stolen. It happened during a trademark dispute while the park switched concessions operators.

The name of The Ahwahnee, a national landmark, even changed temporarily.

The Yosemite Historic Preservation crew made sure the replica of the sign with an eagle was created with painstaking accuracy.

"Not only did I make the handle historically accurate, I made the handle slightly off-center because that's the way it was in the photograph," says Scott McGrath.

The return of a simple sign may seem like a small step to some, but it fills a rather large vacancy in the hearts of visitors and employees.

"A lot of the historic buildings are incredibly important to people," Gediman said.

Restoration on the gate wall also had to be completed.

"91 years old, so a lot of the mortar was failing and degrading," says Matt Bablitch. "There were a lot of mineral deposits on the inside from water infiltration."

McGrath takes pride in the fact his sign will forever be part of the Yosemite experience.

"Very cool," he said. "It's a great place to commute to deliver a project, for sure."
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