Rock Star: 340-Ton Boulder Goes on 22-City Tour

The rock, which may be the largest to be moved from start to finish since the Pyramids, recently started its 105-mile journey to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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Carted from a rock quarry in Riverside, California, a 340-ton boulder is probably the most popular piece of granite on the planet. After Nevada-based artist Michael Heizer chose it as the centerpiece of his most recent artistic production, Levitated Mass, the two-story high boulder started a winding journey through Southern California.

As it makes its way on a flatbed trailer to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the stone will make pit stops in 22 cities during the course of 11 days. According to LACMA, the 200-foot-long trailer is three lanes wide and will creep its way across California at 8 miles per hour.

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It took nearly six months to work out a route that avoided freeway overpasses, narrow streets and bridges — and it had to get the approval of all of the cities on the route. That’s partly because officials claim it is likely the largest rock to be moved from start to finish since the days when the ancient Egyptians were building the pyramids.

“It’s funny, the Egyptians didn’t have rubber wheels and diesel trucks to move things. But they also didn’t have 22 cities through which they had to move their stones,” museum director Michael Govan told the AP.

A group of about 60 people will accompany the trailer (rigged with 44 axels, a 650-horsepower engine, and capable of carting 1 million pounds) to ensure it takes turns safely and clear debris from the road. Of course, there’s a Twitter account involved, so all you rock collectors can track its path.

When it reaches its destination around March 10, Heizer plans to put the rock above a 456-foot-long trench so that it will appear to float in the air while visitors walk under it.

The artist is known for thinking big.  His most recent project, City, took him 40 years to finish and is the size of Mount Rushmore. According to the AP, Heizer actually had the idea for Levitated Mass before City, but couldn’t find the right rock. He finally discovered “the one” in 2007 and got to work on the ambitious installation, which is expected to cost between $5 million and $10 million.  According to the Los Angeles Times, LACMA paid $70,000 to the quarry for the rock alone.

Dozens of people came to bid farewell to the rock and the quarry even held a barbecue Tuesday night, the Daily Mail reports. “Too bad it’s not a diamond,” California resident Billie Welzer, 62, told the Los Angeles Times while snapping photos.

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