California Yanks Racist Tombstones
Negro Hill graves mislabeled in '50s
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2011 4:36 AM CDT
MMichael Harris dusts off one of the 36 grave markers that had been moved from the gold rush era Negro Hill Cemetery to the Mormon Island relocation cemetery near Folsom, Calif.    (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

(Newser) – After more than 50 years, California is replacing 36 tombstones in an El Dorado Hills cemetery inscribed with a racial epithet. When the US Army Corps of Engineers relocated the cemetery from the Gold Rush-era settlement of Negro Hill to make way for a dam in 1954, markers for the anonymous graves of pioneers from various races ended up being inscribed with "Moved from Nigger Hill Cemetery," reports the New York Times.

When the corps learned about the name switch, "the overwhelming reaction was one of shock and embarrassment,” said a military spokeswoman. “There was a lot of ‘Oh my gosh, how did this happen?’ and ‘How can we fix this?’" Local activists pushed for years to have the offensive tombstones removed. Plans to replace them were accelerated after two of the markers were stolen this week. The $18,000 replacement cost will be covered by private donations, according to officials.