University of Tennessee's iconic rock moving

Officials have a replacement ready in case original cracks

The Rock is pictured Tuesday at the University of Tennessee. The campus landmark is moving about 275 feet diagonally across the street because of construction.

Photo by J. Miles Cary

The Rock is pictured Tuesday at the University of Tennessee. The campus landmark is moving about 275 feet diagonally across the street because of construction.

After more than 40 years at one corner of Volunteer Boulevard and Pat Head Summitt Street, the University of Tennessee's iconic Rock will be moved across the intersection this month to make way for a new student health center.

It still will be highly visible to gameday traffic, where passersby can read the birthday wishes, rallying cries, protests and other messages slathered on with paint, sometimes several times a day.

The favorite Rock story for Jeff Wilcox, the 2008-09 Student Government Association president: "Years ago, we beat Florida at home, and (coach) Steve Spurrier's phone number got painted on the rock. After so many phone calls, it got painted over pretty quickly."

Wilcox also cites the joke about men who solicit marriage via a painted proposal: "What girl would turn down a rock that big?"

Construction of the 109,242-square-foot Student Health Center is to begin this fall and will take 18 months, and it won't leave enough room for the Rock, which will be moved about 275 feet diagonally across the intersection, UT announced Tuesday.

UT officials couldn't say Tuesday how big the Rock is and haven't determined the best way to move it.

If the Rock can't be moved without being damaged or destroyed - the Rock is known to have a fissure - a replacement will be erected, said Jeff Maples, interim vice chancellor for finance and administration.

"For generations, the Rock has been an unofficial message board for our campus," Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said in a statement. "It's a UT Knoxville icon. Knowing that, we've worked hard to come up with a plan that allows us to preserve tradition as we expand our campus facilities."

Bill Dunne, professor of earth and planetary science and associate dean of the College of Engineering, took a small sample of the Rock in December 2007 for analysis and determined it is Knox dolomite, a common local rock that's 500 million years old, UT said.

The Rock was moved by bulldozer to its current location in 1966 after workers discovered it near where the old Calvary Baptist Church stood, the area now known as Fiji Island, according to Betsey Creekmore, associate vice chancellor for space and facilities. Students did not begin painting the Rock until the 1970s, UT estimates.

Maples said UT will announce the day and time of the relocation so the campus community can watch, and a celebration of the Rock is planned for Aug. 18 during Welcome Week.

Chloe White may be reached at 865-342-6341.

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Comments » 82

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

Is this a big deal??

mikejohn11 writes:

I think it's a big deal. For years I would walk by the Rock whether at basketball camp or going to a game at Stokley. That was when I was a kid when I went to school there it was still there I would walk past it going to class. I hate that there is a chance that they could break it during the move. Hopefully all will go well.

FearTheKiffin writes:

I used to paint something on it every homecoming on my way to the old frat house. Can't do it anymore. The Delts got booted off campus. I'm so proud.

VOLorado writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

Is this a big deal??

only for Vol fans

chad_t31 writes:

absolutely it's a big deal. Ever since I was a young boy, gamedays included going by the rock just to see what was painted on it. Please be careful with the move.

golfballs03 writes:

this is not cool. i wonder how deep the layers of paint are on that thing

RockinTop writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

Is this a big deal??

I think so too....and I also think it's cool that thye want to preserve it....just speaks more to our love of tradition...

DrJCrown_theMagicMan writes:

Its all Fulmer's fault!

Catfish writes:

It is a big deal. And if the rock breaks, it should be auctioned for the good of the school.

keepitreal4vols writes:

The Rock used to be the size of a football in 1966. But 3 coats of paint a day for the past 43 years, it has become that massive rock you see today. If anyone throws paint thinner on it, it can be moved with a shovel.

MrBamSeydu writes:

I'm glad they've got a replacement in case something happens. That rock is a part of UT history and needs to continue forever.

That thing about Spurrier is pretty funny haha. I hope Jesse Scroggins reads this and sees that "his rock" is being taken care of. :)

FWBVol writes:

Anybody who questions if the Rock is a big deal might be a Volunteer fan, but it's obvious they were never a UTK student.

The Rock has been the collective billboard of the expression of UT students for decades.

Paint the Rock, but don't pound it.

elsinoresam writes:

I remember in 1992 after Johnny Majors came back too soon from his Bypass surgery and we lost a game someone painted "Down the middle johnny.. We have a Major Problem" on the rock. Next week he was toast.

gohawks1 writes:

"That was my daddy's rock." - Barney Fife

jcherrie#219531 (Inactive) writes:

Symbols are a big deal. That's why we have arguments in front of Congress about issues like "Flag Burning".

Please - no political discussions!!!!

nicksjuzunk#646117 writes:

in response to keepitreal4vols:

The Rock used to be the size of a football in 1966. But 3 coats of paint a day for the past 43 years, it has become that massive rock you see today. If anyone throws paint thinner on it, it can be moved with a shovel.

Dang it!! You beat me to it!

VolGraduate writes:

Not a good idea to move it

rocky_topper writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

Is this a big deal??

my gosh, you ain't from these parts are ya!

HallowedHill writes:

Those of us who are current or former UT students know "The Rock" is as big a deal as it is big.

ethanfrome writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

Is this a big deal??

Yes its a big deal. I have seen that thing my whole life.

NobodyCares (Inactive) writes:

That's a great idea. What time will you be there?

Hey guys, let's all meet lil' zzgatorboy at the rock on Friday and help him paint the rock!

VOLinATL writes:

This discussion again shows there is a huge difference between being an alumnus and simply a fan of UT sports.

NoMoreWooAfterGoodOleRockyTop writes:

UT,

First you take down the iconic V-O-L-S signs from the rim of Neyland and replaced them with that awful Power T with rays of sunlight emitting from the great beyond and now this? What's next? Redneck fans will add their own lyrics to Rocky Top? Oh wait, they already did that. What happened to tradition and class around here?

NobodyCares (Inactive) writes:

Great! Bring your buddies lil' DCgatorboy and lil' swampy. OK?

Down_The_Field writes:

as this may be unimportant to some, it is important to me. reporting the fact that it is knox dolomite is like me stating that every third truck is a ford.

anyway, can't these people leave well enough alone???!!! why can't we keep traditions? why can't we stop building the stadium so high that we can't see "the hill" anymore. leave the %$@# rock alone! it has a place of it's own and doesn't need to be moved. who needs a *&%^ student health building. i got along fine without it when i was there.

GerryOP writes:

Save The Rock!

66 -- Fear The Kiffin...

Chris4Vols22 writes:

in response to tweetdriver63#346474:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It's actually moving to the lawn of the music building across the street.

utfpmd writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

Is this a big deal??

For those of us who actually went to school at UTK -- yes it is.

brokebackvol writes:

Agreed - big deal if you attended college at UTK. Just don't break the rock (or give to ole 'butter fingers' that fumbles at the goal line)

Chris4Vols22 writes:

in response to Down_The_Field:

as this may be unimportant to some, it is important to me. reporting the fact that it is knox dolomite is like me stating that every third truck is a ford.

anyway, can't these people leave well enough alone???!!! why can't we keep traditions? why can't we stop building the stadium so high that we can't see "the hill" anymore. leave the %$@# rock alone! it has a place of it's own and doesn't need to be moved. who needs a *&%^ student health building. i got along fine without it when i was there.

I knew a student who died from influenza because they didn't want get a flu shot from the Student Health Center. So, I would say it's pretty important.

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to NoMoreWooAfterGoodOleRockyTop:

UT,

First you take down the iconic V-O-L-S signs from the rim of Neyland and replaced them with that awful Power T with rays of sunlight emitting from the great beyond and now this? What's next? Redneck fans will add their own lyrics to Rocky Top? Oh wait, they already did that. What happened to tradition and class around here?

A-MEN! thanks!! NMWAGORT

i move to flar-duh for 6 years and come back to a game and hear that junk they added to the song.

i'm sure the volunteer statue is fair game now. maybe they'll move Ayers Hall to place a woodstock memorial in it's place.

tmartin writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

Is this a big deal??

yes, idoiot.

tmartin writes:

in response to tmartin:

yes, idoiot.

yes, idiot.

Chris4Vols22 writes:

And if you're going to complain about it being moved, why don't you complain about when it was FIRST moved. It used to be on Fiji Island, so is it disrespectful that we moved it from its original location? NO!
Quit your crying and accept changes for the general betterment of UT and its students.

TommyJack writes:

in response to utwhinesalot:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Drive up? From KNS?

Bigger_Al writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

Is this a big deal??

You clearly did not attend the University of Tennessee...

JtDL writes:

Can't we build the new building somewhere else?

flyTNguy writes:

It would be nearly impossible to crack that rock...all the layers of acrylic paint will not only act as a powerful glue, but also as a rubberized shield around it. The hard part will be getting it unstuck from the ground. Go Vols!

flyTNguy writes:

Off subject, but I think the idea of the football team wearing black jerseys on Halloween at home versus South Carolina is a great idea!!!!!!! Let's do it!

Waldorf writes:

Any truth to the rumor that if The Rock does break on the transfer, the replacement is actually Foolmore since they are about the same size?

NashvillePreds writes:

in response to FearTheKiffin:

I used to paint something on it every homecoming on my way to the old frat house. Can't do it anymore. The Delts got booted off campus. I'm so proud.

Be sure to stop by the Delt house this fall. They're back.

You are still a loser.

bUTchVFL writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

Is this a big deal??

You obviously didn't go to UT. That would be like asking what's the big deal with Massey Hall.

agentorange writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

Is this a big deal??

yes f*cktard. it's the same as moving ayers hall.

checkerboards writes:

jhayes, I think everyone has answered your question (moron). I don't have a problem with them moving it. As long as it is still around and visible it's fine by me.

CoverOrange writes:

I was on campus from 1982-1987. Went to every football game and mens basketball game during that time. Even attended some womens basketball and volleyball games and saw some track. I walked every day to the Hill down Andy Holt (when it was one street). Frequented Cumberland Ave and Fort Sanders neighborhood quite a bit. Never noticed this rock. Guess you had to be a frat.

Wouldn't it make more sense to move it down to Circle Park or the intersection of Stadium Dr and Andy Holt, someplace where it is easily noticed?

Wonder how current faculty and students feel about losing yet another parking lot?

murrayvol writes:

in response to keepitreal4vols:

The Rock used to be the size of a football in 1966. But 3 coats of paint a day for the past 43 years, it has become that massive rock you see today. If anyone throws paint thinner on it, it can be moved with a shovel.

:).

murrayvol writes:

in response to utwhinesalot:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Drive up from where? Lenoir City?

VOLinATL writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

I was on campus from 1982-1987. Went to every football game and mens basketball game during that time. Even attended some womens basketball and volleyball games and saw some track. I walked every day to the Hill down Andy Holt (when it was one street). Frequented Cumberland Ave and Fort Sanders neighborhood quite a bit. Never noticed this rock. Guess you had to be a frat.

Wouldn't it make more sense to move it down to Circle Park or the intersection of Stadium Dr and Andy Holt, someplace where it is easily noticed?

Wonder how current faculty and students feel about losing yet another parking lot?

So, you never went to a baseball game, or ventured around Stokely Athletic Center, or walked past the Music Buliding?

murrayvol writes:

in response to tmartin:

yes, idiot.

I think idoiot is French for idiot.

volphan78 writes:

Although I am not real enthused at the thought of having to move the rock, apparently it needs to happen to build a new building. this is all fine and good but i swear to all that is holy is those boys jack this up...there will be a cry for someones head!

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