Peace Rock Unearthed Campus Customs from a Century Past

GRINNELL, Iowa- This week Grinnell College has uncovered a piece of it’s past. It’s called the Peace Rock. It was found buried on the central part of campus for over 100 years.

No one even knew it was there, until recently.

Local historian Byron Hueftle-Worley, of Grinnell was reading an old newspaper from the area which mentioned a dynamite blast on campus in 1914.

“That got me a little bit excited because usually don't have dynamite going off on campuses,” said Hueftle-Worley.

The whole story began over something called a Class Scrap.

"The class scrap was an annual event where in the first and second year boys would have a big wrestling match somewhere on campus,” said Hueftle-Worley “Often it turned into an all-night event of partying, rough housing, and then end up with one big fight here on campus somewhere.”

Class Scrap was popular on other midwest campuses as well, and in 1913 a young man died in a class scrap on a Wisconsin Campus.

“The College President pleaded with the students not have this fight again,” said Hueftle-Worley.

For a while it looked like a fight might happen, instead some of the boys brought a large rock to offer as a symbol of peace.

“They made speeches of a peace in our time, everybody's going to be friends from now on,” said Hueftle-Worley. “That didn't work out terribly well soon the people on campus did not like losing this valued tradition.”

Someone painted the Peace Rock red in the middle of the night. Then someone set off dynamite under the rock, blowing a piece of the rock apart.

Eventually someone dug a hole, and buried it.

Hueftle-Worley contacted Professor John Whittaker, who has taught anthropology for 30 years on campus. He brought his students out for a dig of the site. Whittaker serves as an anthropological archeologist.

They found the rock, and small pieces of rock, and glass. They also found some shell casings from a military rifle dating back even before the Peace Rock incident.

“I heard about the Peace Rock several years ago, from Byron,” said Whittaker. “I had appropriate class, and the center part of campus is going to be torn up for new landscaping so this is an opportunity we couldn't pass up.”

There is now some talk on campus of putting the Peace Rock back on display once all the construction is finished.