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FAIRGROUNDS The Big Rock has interesting history



Published: Sun, August 25, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The boulder, composed of large crystals of feldspar and flakes of biotite and pyroxene, is foreign to the Mahoning Valley.

By MARALINE KUBIK

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

CANFIELD -- It is big. Really big.

It stands 15 feet tall and weighs 50 tons -- more than a small herd of elephants.

It's also old. Really old.

A forest fire would rival the birthday candles if its years at the Canfield Fairgrounds were marked with cake.

The Big Rock, a behemoth in the little park between the grandstand and the administrative office, is actually a glacial boulder.

It was deposited about 1,000 feet east of its current location by a continental ice sheet 18,000 to 20,000 years ago.

William H. Kilcawley, a prominent Youngstown industrialist, longtime fair board member and gentleman farmer, wanted the boulder moved from its resting place in the east parking lot to a more prominent location and paid to have it relocated, recalled Homer Miller.

Miller, 87, was grounds supervisor at the fair when the boulder was relocated in fall 1958.

Kilcawley hired G.F. Howard Construction Co., which was based in Canfield, to move the boulder, Miller said.

Before it could be relocated, the rock had to be unearthed. About half of it was buried, Miller said. Its location now also had to be excavated and the resulting hole packed with gravel. "That rock is in the ground as much as it is out of the ground," Miller said.

According to a 1958 newspaper report about the relocation, the rock sits much as it did before it was moved, with about 6 feet below ground.

Meeting spot

The relocation was completed using a tractor-trailer. Once the boulder was transported to its new home, it was rolled off the rig and luckily, Miller said, "it came off the trailer just the way it is. I don't know what we would have done if it hadn't gone into place. It was so heavy, it bent the trailer."

Since then, The Big Rock has served as a meeting spot for friends, a challenge for youngsters who try to scale its sides and sit on its top, and a monument to Kilcawley's generosity.

The boulder, made up of large crystals of feldspar and flakes of biotite and pyroxene, is foreign to the Mahoning Valley.

The nearest outcrop of stone of this type, according to a plaque mounted on the rock, is north of Toronto, some 500 miles away.

Kilcawley had planned to mount a tablet to the boulder describing its history, but he died before that could be done, just a month after the rock was relocated.

After his death, the fair board dedicated the rock to Kilcawley and fastened an informational plaque to it.

kubik@vindy.com




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