Engineers Tradition Stone – Fairbanks, Alaska - Atlas Obscura
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Fairbanks, Alaska

Engineers Tradition Stone

A sarcastic monument that threatens to curse any "idiot" who dares remove it. 

This strange, silly monument does more than stand as a tongue-in-cheek testament to a proud tradition of matching absurd and restrictive rules with equally absurd hijinks. According to the plaque slapped onto its shockingly green paint, it’ll also curse anyone who dares remove it.

In 1957, the University of Alaska Fairbanks banned alcohol on campus. In response, students dug a mock grave in front of the oldest building on campus, filled it with beer bottles, and sealed it with a headstone that read “Here Lies Tradition, 1957.” The UAF administration, humiliated, ordered the destruction of the headstone.

But before the order could be carried out, anonymous students carried the stone away. It’s been known as the Tradition Stone ever since, handed down through generations of UAF students until it mysteriously disappeared in the early 2000s.

Sometime during the ’60s, there was the rumor of an additional, secret Tradition Stone. The engineering department supposedly had its own version of the fabled rock called the Blarney Stone. Depending on who is telling the story, the Blarney Stone was either a fragment chipped off the original Tradition Stone or a completely separate rock with no real connection to the original. Either way, the Blarney Stone was used in engineering initiation rituals during St. Patrick’s day. The Blarney Stone also disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

Ten years after the original tradition stone debacle, the engineering department decided to commemorate both stones with a symbolic headstone, one that would not be removed or lost. A plan was hatched to build a monument with two protections against those who would deface it: formidable size and weight, and a curse levied against “idiots.”

The result is a 4,500-pound, pyramid-shaped, mint green (for St. Patrick’s day) monument, bearing a plaque that humorously tells of past “plagues,” “excrement of many beasts,” and “terrible rumblings” those who removed the stone once brought upon the campus.

The monument actually has been relocated several times, without any wicked repercussions. Senior members of the engineering department hold that the only way to safely move the stone without triggering a curse is to make sure it is moved by intelligent people—aka engineers. “Idiots” from other schools have tried to remove the stone before, getting as far as a nearby parking lot before being caught.

Know Before You Go

The stone is on the west side of Corner Stone Plaza, opposite the statue of Charles Bunnell, right in front of the Engineering building. There is free parking on the east side of the plaza.