Kissing Rock has been a Carthage College tradition for more than 100 years. In 1913, students in a Carthage geology class spotted the 1-1/4-ton granite boulder in a creek bed during a field trip. They decided to move it to campus as a tribute to Carthage. It took three tries, but the students finally managed to hoist the boulder onto a wagon, and with the help of a steam tractor, they hauled it to campus.
Once on campus, the Rock immediately became a part of Carthage life. Students dubbed it “The Kissing Rock” and countless marriage proposals were made and accepted by it.
The Rock was moved to the Kenosha campus in the mid-1960s by members of the Beta Phi Epsilon fraternity. It now sits proudly facing Lake Michigan between Lentz and Tarble Halls.
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Today, Kissing Rock is a multifaceted symbol of the Carthage spirit. Students paint the Rock to promote their organizations and causes, publicize upcoming events, and celebrate just about everything and anything. Kissing Rock has served as a memorial to beloved alumni, an expression of protest against injustice, a tribute after 9/11, and more.
It’s also maintained its magic. In April 2016, College Magazine ranked Carthage No. 5 on its list of “Top 10 Schools for Falling in Love” because of the Kissing Rock tradition. Kissing Rock has also earned Carthage a spot on College Ranker’s “25 Most Romantic Campus Traditions” list; Online College.org’s “10 Most Romantic Campus Traditions” list and others.
Steeped in tradition and memories, Kissing Rock is beloved by Carthage students and alumni, who make a point of visiting the Rock during reunions or visits.
“I don’t believe it was ever painted when it was on the Carthage, Illinois, campus. There was a sort of spiritual or special significance to it, and painting it would have been thought to be less than sacred. The current dimensional use of the Rock’s paintings to support worthy causes has a new and important significance, too.”
— Lester E. Schultz ’55