In 1774, Plymouth townspeople decided to relocate their landmark, engaging 30 yoke of oxen for the job. The screws they installed to help move it served as wedges splitting the rock in half as soon as the oxen pulled. In an 1834 Independence Day parade, a Mayflower replica accompanied by a two-wheeled cart transporting the upper half of the rock from the town common to Pilgrim Hall. When a pen reportedly dislodged, causing the card to tilt the rock hit the ground and broke into pieces. The lower half remained at the waterfront, vulnerable to the elements and part of a commercial wharf, across which iron-wheeled carts of fish, coal, and other goods rolled. A local merchant kept a hammer and chisel on hand for souvenir seekers. In 1880 the halves were reunited, though by then the pieces no longer matched. Town officials chinked in the spaces with random (less historic) stones and chiseled in the date “1620.” Places where pieces of Plymouth Rock have come to rest: the Plymouth Congregational Church in Brooklyn New York; the Conoco refinery in Hull, Massachusetts; the Smithsonian; and museums in California and Nevada. In the 1920s, the Antiquarian Society of Plymouth sold pieces as paperweights. Other known uses: tie tacks, cufflinks, pendants, earrings, a 400-pound doorstop, and a weight for a barrel of corn beef.

-Adapted from, “A Piece of the Rock” by Jeff Baker November 2000 Yankee Magazine