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Keep Your Hands Off Our Stones

When people grow to love a certain big rock, they can get a little possessive. And if someone tries to move that rock, look out!

Three cases currently making headlines illustrate that point.

In Des Moines, Iowa, stands a 16-ton boulder with a plaque honoring the first Iowan to die in World War I. Last week it was moved across the street, into the back of a cemetery, by the local VFW. The state VFW threw a fit according to the Des Moines Register, saying that the move was illegal and that the locals “did not seek the necessary authorization.” But once a 16-ton anything gets moved, it tends to stay put.

That may not be the case in Portsmouth, Ohio. That’s where Indian Head Rock currently resides in the town’s Municipal Garage — after being dredged out of the Ohio River by a local upholsterer. The rock, covered in mysterious markings, was a tourist attraction for years before it disappeared beneath dam-blocked river water. The problem is that the River also serves as state boundary, and now the citizens of Greenup, Kentucky, are threatening to throw the upholsterer into jail for stealing what they claim is their rock.

This animosity was avoided entirely by the citizens of Alexandria, Minnesota. They had planned to move their giant replica Runestone from where it had stood since 1951 to a spot next to the town’s Viking statue, Big Ole. But, perhaps mindful of the stony faces and rocky feelings created in other communities, Alexandria has decided to leave its rock just where it is.

(Note: rocks that move by themselves offend no one.)

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