Rock On

Rock On

By Amy Blakely

If you’re looking for UT Knoxville’s famous Rock, just glance diagonally across the street from where you remember it. The 97.5-ton hunk of Knox dolomite—a beloved landmark and venue for student self-expression for decades—was moved over the summer to make way for the construction of a new Student Health Center.

The Rock now sits at the intersection of Volunteer Boulevard and Pat Head Summitt Street, near the Music Building.

Dozens of UT students, alumni, and members of the faculty and staff turned out to watch the historic move on July 15. The task took more than 12 hours. After workers dug out around the Rock, exposing the large section underground, a 2-ton crane hoisted the behemoth out of the hole and loaded it onto a flatbed truck.

The work proved trickier than anticipated.

Steel cables had to be brought in to lift the Rock, and three flatbed trucks were summoned separately to the scene before one large enough was found. The truck bearing the oversized load then had to negotiate a trench—quickly filled with asphalt—that had been dug down the middle of Pat Head Summit Street for utility work.

The Rock arrived safely at its new home, but a violent thunderstorm erupted just as workers were hoisting it up by the crane to place it into the hole prepared for it.

Finally, a little after 9 p.m., the Rock was in place, and by 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,” Jeff Maples, vice-chancellor for finance and administration, said. Student leaders 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.”

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