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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Departure of the crane signals construction progress

Over the weekend, the College community said goodbye to “the crane.” McGough Construction’s iconic crane towered over campus, measuring 148 feet tall to the top of its mast with a 230-foot-wide radius. Since its installation last year, the sight of the soaring crane against the Iowa sky has provided residents with what some might call inspiration, a sense of dignity or even a beacon of hope amidst the stressful and insulated environment of Grinnell College. 

The crane was taken down using a smaller crane, leaving a hole in the landscape, and in many hearts. Brent Jaeger, an employee of the College and resident of the city of Grinnell, perhaps put it best when he wrote on Facebook: “Last week the tower crane over the Grinnell College Humanities & Social Studies Complex (HSSC) construction site was disassembled and removed from the Grinnell skyline. Central campus will feel different without the giant weather vane and nightlight.”

The popular Facebook page “Grinnell Construction,” run by anonymous individuals, provided its own memoriam: “The crane is gone. We are experiencing a lot of emotions right now and have not been posting a lot, so please forgive us. The end of a relationship as long as this one has hit pretty hard. Thank you all for sticking with us through this difficult time.”

Even prospective students mourned the loss of the crane, despite not having ever lived on campus concurrently with the legendary piece of equipment. 

“I do miss the crane! I told my parents about it when we were coming, and I was very disappointed that I couldn’t show it to them,” said admitted student Eleanor from St. Paul, Minnesota, who visited campus in October and has now committed to Grinnell. “I remember that it was super cool at night because it was the only big light that was up above besides the stars so it was a cool contrast. I was a fan.”

Although the crane has been taken down, construction persists in its daily rhythms on campus. According to the official construction website, this week saw the installation of a flat roof and workers are beginning to construct an interior stone fireplace. Workers are also installing windows on the second floor. Those interested in keeping up with the fast-paced construction work can watch the transformation live on the website at at

Prospective students noted that although the construction may be inconvenient, it did not detract from their opinion of the College. 

“A lot of the college campuses I’ve visited have also been under construction, but I feel like here more than most places it doesn’t feel like an eyesore because it’s … not around the classes or a lot of the places that I visited. So, I look forward to seeing [the completed HSSC] if i can come here,” said Natalie, a non-committed admitted student from Chicago. 

Kaitlin, from West Lafayette, Indiana agreed: “[Other construction] is really confusing and hard to navigate but it seems a lot easier here.”

Ostensibly, the class of 2022 will be the first students to use the HSSC at some point during all their four years at Grinnell, but the College is projected to begin breaking ground on additional projects within the next four years. The crane might be down, but campus construction will continue.

The College community and Grinnell at large said goodbye to the beloved crane earlier this week. Photo by Mahira Faran.
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