Historic stump being relocated from Whitehall

Staff members and workmen using epoxy resin glue to attach lateral roots of an ancient stone tree stump exhibited near the Classroom Building on the University of Kentucky campus. Photo taken 1962.

Bailey Vandiver

Students may have noticed that while they were gone for the summer, the stump in front of Whitehall disappeared, replaced by a brand new sidewalk.

The stump is currently wrapped up and in storage, according to UK Facilities Management Vice President and Chief Facilities Officer Mary S. Vosevich. It will soon find its way to a new home on campus. 

Its new location, at the entrance of the Mining and Minerals Resources Building, is being prepared. Vosevich said it’s being moved to preserve it and to give it “a proper home.”

The stump has been on campus since 1961, when it was donated to the UK Geology Department, according to a pamphlet by Kentucky Geological Survey. It is named the “Whitfield Stump” because it was donated by George Whitfield, then manager of Clover Fork Coal Company.

The stump was discovered in the company’s mine in 1938, and Whitefield arranged for it to be removed. It was displayed in Kitts, Kentucky, until its relocation to UK.

The stump was a preserved fossil of a tree that lived approximately 300 million years ago in a swampy forest. The tree died after being buried in mud following a flood. The stump eventually became a fossil made out of sandstone that preserved the shape of the original trunk.

Since then, it’s been a landmark at the center of UK’s campus. Vosevich said several UK classes use the stump for different reasons. 

Vosevich said a preservation company is handling the relocation.