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Construction accident damages landmark stone at University of Arkansas

Feb. 27, 2020
Spoofer's Stone has lain on the lawn for 150 years in front of the oldest building on the Fayetteville campus.

A construction accident at the University of Arkansas has damaged one of the oldest and most beloved landmarks on the Fayetteville campus.

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports that Spoofer's Stone, which had lain on the front lawn of the Old Main for almost 150 years, was smashed to pieces when a vehicle ran into it.

John Thomas, a university spokesman, says a contractor was roping off the Senior Walk to do restoration work on the sidewalk that extends from the front doors of Old Main, the oldest building on campus, toward Arkansas Avenue.

"There was something construction-related in that area as they were setting up, and some vehicle hit the stone," Thomas said. "We don't know exactly how it was hit."

After the incident, Spoofer's Stone was covered with a black tarp and corralled by orange fencing.

The university says it believes the stone can be repaired.

Officials say the stone is considered a campus landmark.

"In the early days of the university, male and female students were not allowed to fraternize in any way while on campus," according to the Arkansas Alumni Association.

"A female student would take a seat on the stone and slip a note for her sweetheart in the crack of the stone. She would then rise and walk away. A short time later the male student would stroll over to the stone, take a seat, and retrieve his mail. This continued to be a popular custom with the students for many years.

"Spoofer's Stone also became a popular place for marriage proposals, and couples who became engaged would often remove small portions of the stone for mementos."

According to campus lore, the stone weighed about 3,000 pounds when it first crashed to the ground from the ox cart. When it fell from the cart, it cracked, and construction workers just left it there.

Spoofer's Stone had apparently shrunk considerably by 2002, when two students stole half of it. At that time, the two halves of Spoofer's Stone were estimated to weigh a combined 600 pounds.

A ranger with the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission spied the stone in the back of a pickup near Tahlequah, Okla. The 1933 plaque was still attached to it.

The students told police they stole it on a $100 bet.

The stolen half of Spoofer's Stone was returned and reattached.

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