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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Sept. 21, 2007

A Sesquicentennial look back

History, on the rocks

by Diana Pounds

Iowa Staters of decades past were fond of turning boulders into history markers. Today, some 40 stones dotting campus offer stately salutes to people and things that ought to be remembered.

Stray off the sidewalk on your next walk through the central lawn and you'll be rewarded with some interesting footnotes in Iowa State's 150-year history.

Many of the rocks in this area bear familiar names - Beardshear, Bessey, Knapp, Pammel, Stanton, Welch and Wallace. The stones recall the not-so-familiar, as well. For example, a large piece of granite near the central campus flagpole lists all 22 names of the graduating class of 1876.

Fittingly, one of Iowa State's most famous horticulturists is remembered on a small stone tucked in a planting bed under several blue spruce trees south of LeBaron Hall. The marker honors Professor J. L. Budd, a teacher beloved by many students, including one young George Washington Carver.

Beyond the central lawn, there's more history on the rocks. Many generations of Lancelots and Elaines have glided past the rock recalling the first swan couple's entry to Lake LaVerne in 1935. A large rock just east of the Food Sciences Building pinpoints the place where 2 million pounds of uranium metal were produced for the Manhattan Project in the 1940s.

A stone memorializing seven Cyclone runners and staff who died in a 1985 plane crash stands poignantly near the finish line of the Iowa State cross country course.

And outside the Communications Building on the north side of campus, an inconspicuous rock marks the spot where ISU history began. The sparse inscription on the small boulder reads: "This tablet marks the site where, on July 4, 1859, there was held a gathering to celebrate the founding of the college."

Rock and plaque

Botanist Louis Pammel, well-liked professor, teacher and lifelong friend of George Washington Carver, and head of the first Iowa State Board of Conservation, is remembered on this rock on north central campus. Fellow conservationists dedicated the rock and a memorial grove of sugar maple trees in 1937.Photo by Bob Elbert.

ISU 150th logo

Inside is running a yearlong series of photos and articles that look back at Iowa State traditions, people and places to celebrate the sesquicentennial.