Children holding a sign that says save the bicentennial mural at prado dam

Kicking Off Restoration of Prado Dam Bicentennial Mural

Exciting news! Today, we are thrilled to unveil our plan for the highly anticipated restoration of the Prado Dam Mural in 2023. Crafted by 30 high school students in 1976, the Bicentennial Mural at Prado Dam has been a symbol of unity, freedom, and community spirit for as long as most of us can remember. And now, after much anticipation, it’s finally getting the restoration it deserves. Dive into this adventure with us as we journey back in time and forward into fresh beginnings.

One Way Painting Takes On the Prado Dam Bicentennial Mural

One Way Painting was established back in 1976, the same year the Bicentennial Mural first graced the Prado Dam spillway. Fast forward to 2023, and Riverside County Flood Control and Water District has entrusted us with the honor of restoring this local treasure. What a privilege! We are so excited to share our journey with you all. This mural is a testament to our community’s resilience, and we feel so incredibly blessed to be a part of preserving this piece of history.

Our Commitment to Excellence

At One Way Painting, honesty and integrity are not just words, but guiding principles that shape everything we do. When it comes to repainting the Prado Dam Mural, we are all in. After all, it’s not every day that we work on a project with such historical and emotional significance. Understanding the deep connection and love our community has for this iconic masterpiece, we’re committed to preserving its beauty and historical value.

A Historic Restoration Begins

When we decided to take on this project, we knew we had to do it justice. Thanks to the high-quality, enduring paints generously donated by Dunn Edwards and Rust-oleum, and our incredible team of seasoned painters with years of experience working together, we’re confident that the mural will captivate onlookers for many years to come.

Setting the Stage for Success

Before we could begin repainting the Prado Dam Mural, we knew we had to lay the groundwork for success. This meant taking care of important preparations. We made sure to acquire all the necessary equipment and supplies, including a non-electric paint sprayer to overcome the lack of electricity at the dam and porta potties to account for the lack of restrooms while working on the spillway.

Additionally, we had strict safety precautions and training to complete prior to beginning our work on the spillway’s 40-degree slope. We diligently followed all safety guidelines provided by the Army Corps of Engineers (owners of Prado Dam) and the Riverside County Flood Control and Water District (who contracted us for this restoration).

safety tools and equipment for painting the Bicentennial Mural at Prado Dam

Project Timeline: Unveiling Our 24-Day Restoration Plan

Art restoration is an intricate dance of planning and execution. Central to our restoration of the Prado Dam Bicentennial Mural is a meticulously laid out 24-day plan.

We’re aiming to complete this fantastic project in a little over a month, just in time for the 4th of July festivities! While the weather might throw us a curveball, we’re optimistic about staying on track.

Diving into Details

Our plan involves two phases:

  • Phase One: 2 Days to Survey and Map the Vintage Mural Before It’s Removed from Prado Dam
  • Phase Two: 22 Days to repaint the Prado Dam Mural

Phase One: 2-Day Recon of the Vintage Mural

Our restoration journey began not in 2023, but much earlier in 2022. Even before the old mural bid its goodbye, we jumped straight into the initial phase. Soon after the mural was greenlit for restoration, our dedicated team ventured to Prado Dam, marking the start of our 24-day restoration mission.

These initial days had us charting the classic mural before its farewell. The primary objective was to document every part of the vintage mural in its entirety before it was erased, ensuring we had an accurate template to work with once the mural was cleared from the dam.

Our Team of Orange County house painters at Prado Dam, mapping out mural

Over two days, two dedicated two-man teams took on the vital task of documenting each emblematic symbol on the Prado Dam Bicentennial Mural.

We meticulously grid mapped the layout of the vintage mural using the spillway’s 36 concrete panels. The process involved using strings, lasers, and tape measurers to document all edges, corners and sides of each of letter, number, star and symbol on the mural, capturing their exact placement.

bicentennial mural up close on 200 years of freedom

The remaining 22-day paintwork will commence once the mural has been cleared from the Prado Dam.

Passing the Baton: Lead Abatement Specialists Take Charge

After our mapping mission, we had to press pause on our role in the restoration while the removal of the vintage mural took precedence. Since traces of lead-based paints were found on the vintage mural, its removal had to be handled with extreme care. A specialized lead abatement process was required. For this part of the project, we passed the baton to another company that specializes in lead abatement.

Over the course of several months, workers diligently and carefully stripped away the old paint, being sure to follow all necessary safety protocols to ensure both the environment and the community’s well-being.

removing lead-based paints for Bicentennial Mural

As you can see in the picture, workers had to wear protective suits during the entire process. All lead chips and debris were collected and safely disposed of to ensure the community remained safe.

While the lead abatement process was taking place at the dam, we were busy preparing for our upcoming work. From working with Riverside County to get all necessary approvals, completing safety training and preparing all proper insurance documents, we had lots to keep us busy.

A Fresh Start at Prado Dam

blank prado dam spillway on April 3, 2023

After undergoing a comprehensive lead abatement process that wrapped up towards the end of 2022, the iconic Bicentennial Mural had disappeared from the Prado Dam spillway. What remained was a vast, untouched canvas, signalling the next stage of our 24-day restoration journey.

We returned to Prado Dam at the start of April 2023. Seeing the Prado Dam post sandblasting was nothing short of surreal. It’s not every day you see such a massive, familiar artwork suddenly absent. The blank spillway stands in stark contrast to the vivid imagery we’ve come to associate with it. It was the first time in decades that the dam stood as a clean slate. Yet, seeing the empty canvas also filled us with hope, as it was also a fresh start for this mural.

Phase 2: Repainting the Mural in 22 Days

Though our 24-day mission commenced back in September 2022, the true essence of our work springs to life now. As our team stands ready at the dam in April 2023, we are prepared to breathe life back into this cherished piece of history. With a carefully orchestrated 22-day plan, we’re rolling up our sleeves and setting forth on this incredible repainting adventure.

Our detailed mapping of the vintage mural will serve as our blueprint for this phase of the project. We have divided the repainting of the mural into manageable sections to tackle simultaneously. By working on multiple sections at the same time, we aim to reduce the need for frequent paint changes, minimizing waste and making the most of every precious gallon of donated paint.

What’s On the Agenda?

Here’s what’s on our painting to-do list for the remaining 22 days of painting:

  • Days 1-8: The first major section we’ll paint is the bold lettering of “200 YEARS OF FREEDOM”. We’ve allocated 8 days to paint this in striking red with its contrasting white background. This segment sets the tone for the entire mural, making its precision crucial.
  • Days 9-11: Following that, the blue Liberty Bell and its white backdrop take center stage. We’ve estimated 3 days for this part, ensuring the iconic bell is both prominent and perfectly shaded – it’ll be a sight to behold!
  • Days 12-16: The years “1776-1996” are up next, which we estimate will require about 5 days of work. At this point, the mural will look complete, but we’re not done yet!
  • Days 17-21: Once the primary elements are in place, we’ll embark on the vital task of adding a second coat of paint over the entire mural. This double layer is essential not just for the mural’s vibrancy, but also to ensure the mural’s durability, preserving it for future generations. We estimate this taking us 6 days of work to complete.
  • Day 22: Our grand finale will be the symbolic gesture of painting the crack on the Liberty Bell, a representation of the imperfect yet enduring journey of freedom. This final touch will be completed on the last day of our restoration journey, marking the culmination of our restoration journey

Thank You

We want to take a moment to say thank you to the community for your encouragement on this restoration journey! Thank you for taking the time to explore our restoration plan for the Prado Dam Mural. We’re thrilled to have you join us on this incredible journey, and we’re excited to have you follow along as we bring this historic masterpiece back to life. Your support and enthusiasm mean the world to us. We are deeply moved by the overwhelming support and kindness we have received from each and every one of you. You have been the driving force behind this entire endeavour, and we are immensely grateful to be embraced by such an amazing community.

We would also like to extend our heartfelt thanks to those who sponsored a letter, number, star, or symbol on the Prado Dam Mural. If you’re interested in learning more about the incredible collective efforts to save the mural, we invite you to check out Friends of the Prado Dam. Together, let’s make history and celebrate the enduring spirit of freedom and unity. We can’t wait to share the progress and final results with you. Stay tuned for more updates and let’s embark on this restoration adventure together!

Witness the Prado Dam Bicentennial Mural Come Back to Life

This isn’t just a restoration; it’s a revival of memories, feelings, and a shared history. We’re diving in with enthusiasm, expertise, and utmost care, and we invite you to be part of this exhilarating journey. So, join us on this journey as we work together to revive this patriotic masterpiece. Together, let’s rekindle the magic of the Prado Dam Bicentennial Mural and create new memories for generations to come. Let’s make history! Thanks for following along with our journey, and stay tuned for more updates in the weeks to come!


The Prado Dam Bicentennial Mural is more than paint and patterns; it’s the soul of a community, a historical treasure, and a testimony to unity and freedom. As we set forth on this venture, we’re not just restoring a mural; we’re rejuvenating a legacy. Thank you for being a pivotal part of this narrative. Together, let’s cherish the past, celebrate the present, and paint a brighter future together.

Got Memories? We’d Love to Hear Them!

We invite you to share your memories about the Prado Dam Bicentennial Mural in the comments below. What does the Prado Dam Mural and its restoration mean to you? Perhaps you’ve got a charming story to share or a memory from years ago? Or maybe you’re curious about our restoration techniques? If you have any questions about our painting practices for the project, we’re happy to answer them. Drop a line in the comments. Your involvement makes this journey even more special and your support fuel our dedication. Thank you for joining us on this journey to restore a piece of California history.



  1. Thank you for sharing the exciting news and showing us behind the scenes. I can’t wait to see the Bicentennial Mural shining bright once again! I remember driving by it as a kid and being in awe

  2. Great article. Thank you for the history and fighting to have it restored.

    It’s a beloved sight for me to see when driving on the 91 freeway and I’m glad it’s getting the much needed attention it deserves.

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