For nearly six decades, 36 grave markers in an El Dorado Hills cemetery have borne modern America's most provocative racial epithet, usually referred to as the N-word.
The graves are people who had been buried in the community of Negro Hill, which dates back to the Gold Rush under that name.
But someone in an official capacity no one seems to know who made grave markers that said they were from "N- (racist slur) Hill" when the bodies were moved in 1954.
For a long time, no one seemed to claim the authority to change them.
Now, more than 10 years after one man began working to correct the wrong, El Dorado County appears poised to make the change.
"Why is it a challenge to remove that? Nobody really understands," said Michael Harris, the head of the Negro Hill Burial Ground Project.
It's a bewildering saga that may finally be coming to a close.
"You'll probably be seeing a proposal in the next few weeks," said Mike Applegarth, a spokesman for El Dorado County, a few days after Harris made an appeal to the county's Board of Supervisors.
The Mormon Island Cemetery, as it is known, was a byproduct of Folsom Dam and the reservoir that backed up behind it, flooding thousands of acres.
There were eight cemeteries dating to the 1840s there including Negro Hill's and a handful of isolated gravesites.
The Army Corps of Engineers took responsibility for relocating 374 bodies, deemed the biggest project of its kind ever in California.
The corps paid an Auburn contractor $51,831.01 to do the work, according to Bee stories of the time.
He in turn contracted with another man to handle relocation of grave markers old marble and granite stones, for the most part.
Whether it was a contractor or the corps, someone installed the three dozen concrete rectangles that say, "Unknown, Moved from N- (epithet) Hill Cemetery by U.S. Government 1954."
The identities of the people buried there are unknown, but 19th century accounts identify four people buried at Negro Hill.
Negro Hill was founded in 1848 by African Americans from the East on an arm of land between the south and north forks of the American River, now under water. It was inhabited, even in its earliest years, by people of many races.
Though there are times when that community may have been referred to using the epithet, including a 1944 U.S. Geological Survey map, 1954 news accounts uniformly called it Negro Hill.
Harris said he first visited the cemetery in 1998 and was appalled, but it was not until 2006 that real attention began to focus on the injustice of the grave markers. That year The Bee first covered his campaign to change the markers.
A few years later, however, an effort funded by AT&T to change the markers was derailed after criticism by Harris.
After last Tuesday's supervisors meeting, Applegarth said that the county was responsible for cemetery upkeep, but that he was unsure it had the authority to change the stones.
On Thursday, he gave The Bee copies of documents showing the Corps of Engineers ceded all authority to the county in 1961, except if uranium or other critical elements were discovered there.
The county has developed a tentative plan to remove and replace most of the markers, said Bonnie Wurm, the county's cemetery administrator.
One marker would be kept on site with an explanation of the injustice and its correction.
Harris said any plan would have to be run through his supporters before getting his approval, but he expressed optimism that change was coming.
"I hope within the next six months or so," he said.