SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — You can’t turn back the hands of time, but one Sioux Falls man is bringing history back to life.
“I started looking at that, I’m not an artist, but I’ve done a lot of creative things and said I can do this,” Jim Carlson said.
With a quarter inch brush and a small paint can, Jim Carlson has become known as the Marker Man.
“I started in July is when I started,” Carlson said.
Carlson has spent the entire summer scraping brushing and restoring these historical markers that dot the Sioux Falls landscape.
“The first one I did was Martin Luther King down at Van Eps Park and it was really really bad,” Carlson said.
Carlson spends between three to eight hours on each marker depending on its size and condition.
“Some of them are really really bad and they need a whole complete coating of paint and lettering done, some of them just a little touch up,” Carlson said.
There are 260 historical markers in Minnehaha County. This one details the history of the First Congregational Church on 10th and Minnesota Avenue.
Carlson, who volunteers his time, has restored about 40 of them so far.
“I’m experimenting, I’m learning as I go, but I think it’s working out and they are looking pretty good,” Carlson said.
The historical markers were started back in the 1980s by a man named Bruce Blake.
He had the idea of telling Sioux Falls’ history with these markers.
He wrote a book about them titled ‘12,000 Years of Human History.’
“Jim knew Bruce Blake; we call him the original Marker Man, well Jim is kind of our new Marker Man,” Minnehaha County Historical Society President Rick Lingberg said.
“The historical society and the community are really blessed to have someone like Jim, who has taken this up and has such a passion.”
The markers take a beating in South Dakota’s weather, but despite their age or their condition they still tell a story; the history of Minnehaha County.
“It’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of our history in Minnehaha County, but the thing is unlike a book or anything else you’re standing right where that history took place,” Lingberg said.
“So you can kind of imagine what it might have been like when that happened.”
Carlson’s goal is to keep that history alive by painting over the past one brush stroke at a time; no matter how long it takes.
“But afterward it’s very self-satisfying to step back and see it done,” Carlson said.