KNOXVILLE — If you’re looking for UT Knoxville’s famous Rock, just glance diagonally across the street.
The 98.5-ton hunk of Knox dolomite — a beloved landmark and venue for student self-expression on the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, campus for decades — was moved over the summer to make way for the construction of a new 109,242-square-foot Student Health Center, set to begin this fall. The Rock now sits near the intersection of Volunteer Boulevard and Pat Head Summitt Street, near the Music Building.
A celebration of the Rock in its new site is planned for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 18. The celebration will include a live remote broadcast by WUTK 90.3 “The Rock” radio station and the opportunity to leave your mark on the Rock. Paint will be provided. Free food samples from campus dining vendors and giveaways will be available while supplies last. Smokey will be on hand for pictures, and Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek and Student Government Association President Laura Nishida will address the crowd at noon. In the event of rain, the event will be canceled.
Sponsors of the celebration include WUTK “The Rock”; UT Federal Credit Union; Aramark; UT Alumni Affairs; Ready for the World, the university’s international and intercultural awareness initiative; and UT Facilities Services. Alumni Affairs will be on hand to promote Unite, UT’s newest student alumni organization, which connects undergraduate students with Tennessee traditions, UT alumni, volunteer projects and campus and community leadership opportunities.
The Rock was moved on July 15, and dozens of UT students, faculty, staff and alumni turned out to watch the historic event.
The task took more than 12 hours.
After workers dug out around the Rock, exposing the large section underground, a two-ton crane was brought in to hoist the behemoth out of the hole and load it onto a flatbed truck.
The work proved trickier than anticipated.
Steel cables had to be brought in to lift the Rock. And three different flatbed trucks were summoned to the scene before one large enough to haul the Rock was found. Then, the truck bearing the oversized load had to back down Pat Summitt Street while straddling a trench — quickly filled with asphalt — that had been dug down the middle of the road for utility work.
The Rock safely arrived at its new home, but a vicious thunderstorm erupted just as workers were hoisting it up by the crane to place it in a prepared hole.
Finally, a little after 9 p.m., the Rock was in place and, early the next morning, final shoring up was completed.
Campus administrators said they tried to avoid the move, “but we finally concluded that moving the Rock was our only choice,” Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Jeff Maples said.
Students leaders were consulted and helped choose the new location.
“The Rock’s new site is an equally high-profile area,” Maples said. “In fact, the new location will enhance our plan to extend the pedestrian walkway, add green space and develop a gathering place for students in an ‘arts quad’ concept.”
See a video of the Rock being moved at http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=119BEA34209B0794.
Share photos and stories about the Rock at http://www.utk.edu/therock/.