Why Are There Letters On El Paso’s Mountains?
Giant white letters can be seen on the Franklin Mountains. Who put 'em there? Pranksters, geologists, the military, space aliens ... the Russians??
The answer is, local high school students! Back in the day, the first initial from some high schools, (A for Austin, I for Irvin, etc, etc. Photos here.) was painted on the mountain slope closest to overlooking the school itself. (NMSU and UTEP got in on the fun too!)
Hiking up to them and repainting them every year was a task thrown at incoming Freshmen as an initiation and, apparently, ... on special nights like homecoming or during key sporting events ... the letters could be set on fire. (Nothing says school pride like sparking a major brush fire!)
Time, nature and no set maintenance plan is causing the letters to slowly fade away. Not maintaining them is probably due to 1) the liability each school would hold if they sanctioned such an event today and 2), I doubt the EPA and other environmentalists are too crazy about these things.
Anyway, they don't really get touchups anymore. (Although, I swear the "E" above Scenic Drive used to be a "C".)