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The Community Library Club worked for several years to raise enough funds to complete a mural depicting Byron's past. Chantelle Leighton, a graphic designer, and local artist Bill Weber did much of the work.

BYRON -- Getting the pictorial depiction of Bryon's history on the side wall of Marin Foods may not have been an easy task, and it took far longer and a few different artists to complete, but the mural is something the small community can be really proud of, said organizer Kathy Leighton.

"It isn't exactly what we first envisioned, but it is a nice historical tour of our community," Leighton said.

A century ago Byron was quite different, with a thriving downtown, and the Byron Hot Springs Resort Hotel and The Byron Hotel drawing plenty of visitors. As with most of East County, trains were a major part of the landscape throughout the town. All of this was taken into consideration when designing the mural.

The Community Library Club worked for several years to raise enough funds for the mural. Leighton's daughter, Chantelle Leighton, a graphic designer, and local artist Bill Weber, who recently completed the statue at the Brentwood Community Park, designed the mural.

"In 1902 there was a train wreck here in town that killed 29 people, so trains are an important aspect of our heritage," Kathy Leighton said.

The mural is colored in a sepia tone to give it an old-fashioned look. The downtown buildings look new and filled with the culture of the time. People strolling past the Byron Times building are dressed in early 1900s attire. Travelers with suitcases head from the train station in the direction of the resort or the Byron Hotel.


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"The Marin Foods building was the perfect venue for the mural so people driving through town can see it," Leighton said.

While the building offered the perfect view, it did provide a challenge for the artists. The metal siding was too hot to paint on at times, and the paint would peel right off. Leighton and Weber were about a quarter of a way through the project before they realized they needed to hire someone who had expertise working on metal surfaces.

The mural committee turned to Gallagher Designs of Tracy to complete the project, which took more than two years to finish. "We are finally going to get to use the money from our latest fundraiser to do some work inside the Community Library Club building rather than pay for the mural," Leighton said.

Reach Roni Gehlke at festfan@comcast.net.