The art of assembly

Ophir homeowner collected granite for many years to build rock wall
By: Jane Rounsaville, Home & Garden correspondent
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Scott Sahota loves rocks. As a matter of fact, he built a rock wall garden on his five-acre property in Newcastle as a monument to his love for his family and friends — and granite. Sahota, who grew up in Rocklin, spent his childhood swimming in the local quarries. “I just love granite,” he said, “I like the way it looks, I like the way it feels. It reminds me of the Sierras.” He was especially inspired by Hearst Castle and Yosemite National Park. “They built all of these beautiful rock walls and stairs, and I just always had a vision of doing that,” he said. “So, I had been collecting rocks and dropping them off at my property for 15 or 16 years before I ever started the wall.” Not just any old rock would do. It had to be granite, and Sahota was very picky about the shape of each stone. “It had to have one nice and smooth flat surface,” he said. Most of the wall is made of leftover materials from construction sites. He prefers not to use the term salvage. “I saved them,” he said. He also purchased 80 tons of granite from the Big Gun quarry in Rocklin. “My son would help me unload them,” he said, “Big piles of rocks everywhere — people just thought I was goofy.” The wall took about nine to 10 months to build. “We built it from 1998 to 1999,” Sahota said, “I had hired a guy named Donald Humne, who is just an absolute master craftsman. I worked on (the wall) at night and on weekends. We put tarps over it, and worked on it in the rain, and finished after work until 8 or 9 o’clock at night.” Longtime friends Kelly and Cindy McClure say that Sahota is a brilliant and gifted craftsman. Scott and Kelly had talked over the years about building a wall. “It was an amazing project,” Kelly’s wife, Cindy, said. “My husband was thinking, ‘Oh we’re going to make a beautiful nice stone wall’,” Cindy recalled, “but it became just much, much more.” The wall zigs, zags and twists throughout the garden. Averaging about 4 feet tall, it contains 13 lights, 12 steps, 120 tons of granite and about 21,600 stones. Sahota placed numerous quartz crystals throughout, as well as symbolic emblems to remind him of loved ones — his granddaughters’ handprints, an ant, an eagle and even an infinity symbol to match the tattoo on his arm. He also included an anvil that his late great-grandfather “Pop-Pop” had made out of a railroad tie. The garden is landscaped with a waterfall, palm trees, flowers, grass, and of course, random granite stones with the quarry’s original drill marks. For the waterfall, Sahota gathered old granite stones from Emigrant Gap, and recreated a creek bed they had seen in the area. Three years ago, the Sahotas even gutted their original house, replacing it with a beautiful home adorned with stones to match the garden wall. Eventually, he would like the wall to wrap around the house. Scott’s wife, Pat, was less than enthusiastic about her husband’s project at first. “She actually thought I was absolutely insane,” Scott said. However, she eventually warmed to the idea. “She was very tolerant of me, and she helped collect a lot of these. Some of the rocks for the top of the wall — the smaller, flat rocks,” he said. “She always shook her head and saw me come home and unload load after load in a big pile, and just wondered if I would ever get this project complete. Then after I built the project, she kinda scratched her head, and wasn’t real sure how that would ever fit in with the house.” “She is loving it now,” he said, “It was more of an odyssey, and just kind of just letting her crazy husband have his way, because that is what wives and husbands do. We just had company over last night, and she brags on the wall, and has all the facts and figures on it just like I do.” “I am a little crazy about rock,” he admitted. “But it all seems to work.”