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Read the Wisconsin State Journal's original article on Chamberlin Rock (1925)

Read the Wisconsin State Journal's original article on Chamberlin Rock (1925)

From the Chamberlin Rock: Rediscovery and removal series
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Original caption, published Oct. 9, 1925

Ray Kelleher, who drove the team that turned the capstan that wound the cable that pulled the rock to its new resting place on Observatory hill is not a small man. Nevertheless he doesn't look very big alongside the boulder which has just been dug out of the hill as a geological prize. In fact it's a sizeable pebble. Here it is, on end, about to topple over just after being dragged out of the cozy bed it has occupied for quite a few years.

This story was first published in the Wisconsin State Journal on Oct. 9, 1925


The big boulder on Observatory hill, which is the largest of its kind in the immediate vicinity of Madison, is now out where folks can look at it.

For centuries the huge granite “niggerhead,” partly visible, has been lying there on the hill, just alongside the cinder drive. For three days a crew of men, with horses, steel cables and capstan of 75-tons pulling capacity have been working to bring it to the surface.

It will be placed at the top of the hill, between the observatory and an Indian mound and faced with a bronze tablet which will set forth its history as prepared by President Emeritus E. A. Birge.

The boulder is a significant relic of glacial days. In the opinion of Prof. W.O. Hotschkiss it may have been brought from the middle of Canada during the age of ice and dumped with the rest of the morainal material which forms Observatory hill.

Dr. Birge, however, is not ready to establish it definitely as a deposit from far-off Canada until geologists have examined it carefully following its extraction.

The boulder hitherto has shown only about a foot and a half above ground and scientists at the university long have wondered just how large it is. For several years, at the suggestion of Dr. Birge, the university has planned to disinter the rock, but only this week has time been found to do the work.

After a day of digging, cables were attached to the stone and it was pulled slowly from its bed onto skids to be moved. The pit which it left is fully seven feet deep.

The boulder is about 12 feet in length, eight to 10 feet deep and its weight was estimated at 65 to 70 tons today by A.F. Gallistel, superintendent of buildings and grounds, who is in general charge of the job.

Comparatively few granite rocks of such size are to be found in this section, though many are to be seen in northern Wisconsin. A boulder of about the same size stands as a marker near the art institute in Chicago.


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