COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A worldwide trend that started in Paris continues to grow out at the Lake Murray Dam.
They're called "love locks," and they are padlocks often placed in public places to symbolize unbreakable love.
Lexington resident Lance Myers says he wasn't sure why the locks were on the fence when he first saw them on the Lexington side of the dam. "I thought, 'Are there lockers out there?'" said Myers. "You know like at a gym where you put a lock on cause you don't want to carry it?'
Myers said he first saw just a couple of locks at the dam a few years ago, but has noticed more and more locks added to the fence as time has passed.
People walking the dam can often be seen stopping to look at the locks. Cindy Longobardo who was visiting the dam with her children stopped to take a closer look. "I didn't know what it was about," said Longobardo, "but my daughter said they do this in France."
While some places have called for a ban on the locks and other cities are simply cutting off the padlocks, the state Transportation Department says that is not the case.
That news means the world to Lexington mom Marti Bedell.
"These locks are an emotional part of us," said Bedell. "They represent love."
From new love, to love that has stood time's test, to family love or love for a soldier overseas, each lock, like love, comes in its own shape and size. For Bedell, love remembers.
"I don't want anyone to forget my J, even those who have never met him," said Bedell, speaking of her 27 year-old son Jonathan. He died unexpectedly in April 2013.
"I will never understand the why, but I hang on to who God is and that He loves us and has a perfect plan," said Bedell.
She's also hanging on to J's memory, by hanging locks. "It just became clear one day when I was walking on the dam, that's what I'll do," said Bedell. "And I'll give an opportunity for friends to send me locks from everywhere, and we'll put it in the shape of a 'J'."
Bedell began making the "J" on New Years Day this year. Most recently, she decided it was time to add one final lock. A lock symbolizing a journey Marti was determined to make for her son.
"The day of his funeral, I just knew I had to do it for him," added Bedell.
Years before he died, Jonathan had walked the more than 80 mile-long Hadrian's Wall in England. This May, Marti and her husband, Frank, took that same journey in his honor.
"We put a lock like this at the top before we went, and now we're putting it at the other end because it has been complete -- every step," said Bedell.
And whether you see J's locks on a walk or simply driving by, Bedell hopes you'll not only see his story, but you'll see many stories. And that each lock will be a bigger reminder of love that was, and is, and never ends.
DOT officials say the locks do not pose a maintenance issue or a safety concern at this time, and so they have no intention to remove them.
They add should they become unsightly or should they receive numerous complaints they may address them in the future.