[Masthead] Fair ~ 71°F  
High: 87°F ~ Low: 69°F
Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Standing the test of time; Lake Fort Scott resident erects entrance signs for residents

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Johnnie Walker stands next to one of two massive signs he installed at the entrances to Lake Fort Scott.(Laurie Sisk/Tribune)
Johnnie Walker has been a busy man the past few months.

A Lake Fort Scott resident, Walker recently completed installation of two massive signs, one at each entrance to the community.

Walker, who has lived near the lake for about 40 years, finished the second of two signs, each covering about 30 feet in diameter, about two months ago as a beautification project. Each sign is surrounded by massive stonework, with some of the limestone rocks weighing more than three tons each.

Walker said each sign took approximately two weeks to erect.

The posts are made of cedar and the three-inch thick signs are made of Catalpa wood.

"That doesn't rot, " Walker said "So these will last a long time."

He used limestone to encircle the ground around the sign, because he believes the limestone adds character. Walker said he got the idea for the signs from Big Cedar Lodge near Branson.

"They had a similar sign like that out in front, so that's what I showed the city," Walker said.

He added the cedar posts are deeply embedded in concrete, so they should stand for a long time.

Walker said he used nice, rich soil so that plants would grow nicely there this summer.

There were existing signs at the entrances, but Walker didn't feel they were attractive enough for lake residents.

"It was a small sign and it was hard to see," Walker said. "It just needed something a little more to stand out. I've done so much work out here for everybody at the lake and everybody has been so supportive of my work, so I thought, well, I'll give them something."

Walker said he talked to the Fort Scott City Commission and a neighborhood association of lake residents about his idea for a bigger, more attractive sign.

"The city said it would be fine as long as it didn't cost them anything," Walker said. " And the lake residents all agreed it would be nice."

Other residents also have agreed to contribute to the beautification of the lake.

"Some ladies have agreed to plant flowers and bushes in here in the spring," Walker said.

He said he completed the entrance sign on the west side of the lake first.

"They liked it so they asked me if I would build one on the other side, so I said yes," Walker said. "They took up a little collection and paid for my expenses for the sign on the other side."

Walker said residents raised money for the materials and the artwork by Chad Cliffman, a.k.a The Chainsaw Maniac. Walker donated his time and equipment, as well as the massive stone work at the base of each sign.

Walker said it was about $700 for materials for the signs.

"This is what I do, is lay up stone similar to this around the lake," Walker said. "We've done that for 14 years out here for retaining walls and different things. We've also put a lot of shoreline stone in to secure the shoreline."

Though Walker said he isn't an artist by trade, it's something he enjoys doing.

"This is just something I started doing," Walker said. "But I seem to stay busy with it all the time."

Walker said his company, Walker Construction, does major landscaping work, including scenic waterfalls.

He also was featured on the A&E reality show "American Pickers," about two years ago for the many items he has collected while doing demolition work.

"They came by our place and bought a bunch of stuff from us, so we were on national TV," Walker said.

He said they bought a lot of metal and porcelain signs.

"They like anything unusual and I had several unusual things, including a big, eight-foot tall cowboy boot," Walker said. "It was actually a sign for a boot store."

Walker said the episode is called "The Boot" if anyone would like to go online to the American Pickers website and watch it.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: