Loch Ness. Bigfoot. UFOs.
Iowa State and Ames aren"t without their own mysteries and myths. Included below are short tales — some common to many campuses, others special to these parts.
Now it"s time to pull back the curtain and find out which mysteries are true and which are false.
Does a student"s death result in a 4.0 GPA for the grieving roommate?
You"ve seen it on 'Dead Man on Campus' and 'Dead Man"s Curve' — if your roommate dies, you get all A"s.
Put aside any evil schemes you"ve been plotting to get rid of an annoying roommate. This myth is just a myth.
Although ISU students will not receive a 4.0 in the case of a roommate"s death, the university will provide them with resources, says Nicci Port, coordinator of Outreach Services.
'The university would definitely work with the students in that situation to help get them the resources that they need and help them get through that time,' she says.
Port says the university would work with the professors to help a grieving student.
According to snopes.com, an urban legends reference page, the myth may have originated in the mid-1970s. Thought to have started out as a way for students to express the pressures of obtaining good grades in the form of a joke, this myth caught on when gullible students began spreading the word.
— Katie Piepel
Tunnels buried deep beneath campus: secret passageways or utility freeways?
The myth of the presence of dark, eerie tunnels hidden beneath campus is in fact true.
The myth of their use, however, isn"t.
Commonly thought to provide secret shortcuts from one building to another, these tunnels are for utility use only.
Clark Thompson, facilities planning and management engineer, says the tunnels contain steam distribution piping that runs from the power plant to the buildings on campus.
Utility workers aren"t the only ones to have explored the tunnels, however.
'Students have visited the tunnels in the past,' Thompson says. 'Periodically, they still do.'
The tunnels are set up with an alarm system, and students have been found on a few occasions, Thompson says.
What happens if they"re caught? According to the Iowa State Student Information Handbook, under the student disciplinary regulations entry for unlawful entry or trespassing, 'unauthorized or attempted unauthorized entry, occupation or use of any university-owned or controlled property, equipment or facilities is a violation. It is a violation to enter restricted areas of the university, such as restricted research areas and utility tunnels. Remaining in or on premises after permission to remain has been revoked also is trespassing.'
— Katie Piepel
Yet another strange submission for the Guinness Book of World Records
Ames is the home to many attractions: Jack Trice Stadium, the Campanile and Reiman Gardens — but the world"s largest pitchfork?
Just north of Target, 320 S. Duff Ave., sits a stainless steel blue and orange pitchfork that many say is the world"s biggest.
The pitchfork"s creator, Clarence Martin, claims it is true.
'It is the world"s largest pitchfork,' he says.
Martin is the owner of Custom Steel Service, 217 High St., and says his motivation was simply to make something big — 41 feet tall, to be exact.
He says he made it Superman blue to symbolize modesty carried to the extreme and orange for the international color for danger.
Why that shade of orange?
'If you"ve ever had someone chase you with a pitchfork, you"d know why,' Martin says. 'They"re dangerous.'
— Sophia Panos
From Ames to the Manhattan Project
If you think Iowa has not had much of an impact in any field besides agriculture, you are in for a surprise.
In the late 1930s, Iowa State"s chemistry department was under the control of Frank Spedding — a scientist who went on to become a vital team member in the Manhattan Project, which was instrumental in the development of the atomic bomb.
Steve Karsjen, manager of public affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy"s Ames Laboratory, says the facility and Spedding were vital to the project.
'[The U.S. government] needed someone with [Spedding"s] skills to help develop a process to purify uranium,' Karsjen says.
In the following years, the lab manufactured more than 2 million pounds of uranium, some of which Karsjen says was used in revolutionary processes.
'The uranium produced at Iowa State was used first in a self-sustaining chain reaction experiment at the University of Chicago,' he says. 'That experiment proved an atom would split and create atomic power.'
— Alex Switzer
Tuition on wheels?
Students dream of free tuition — many try numerous ways to get scholarships and aid, and others think it is as easy as getting hit by a CyRide bus.
The rumor that you will receive free tuition if you take a hit from the massive red-and-yellow buses has been around for years, says Karen Jamison, CyRide assistant director of operations.
'Thankfully it"s never been tested,' Jamison says. 'No, it"s not true.'
Jamison says she doesn"t know where the rumor came from, but says she suspects it started like any other rumor and got passed around over the years. But what if someone does get hit by the bus?
'It would be investigated depending on where it happened, just like any other accident,' she says.
So before you throw yourself in front of the circulating buses, think again.
Although this myth is false, Bob Bourne, CyRide director of transportation, says he has heard that kissing a date on the drunk bus will likely lead to wedding bells.
So although free tuition is out of the question, maybe love is in the air.
— Sophia Panos
There goes the neighborhood — Jeffrey Dahmer is formerly of Ames
Ames is a nice town to grow up in … right?
What many people don"t know to be true is that infamous serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer spent a portion of his childhood here in Ames.
According to an article about Dahmer in the Parks Library Biography Resource Center, Jeffrey"s father, Lionel Dahmer, attended Iowa State from 1962 to 1966 to receive his Ph.D. in chemistry.
While going to school at Iowa State, the Dahmer family moved to Ames in 1962 when Jeffrey was two years old — first living at Pammel Court and then Hawthorn apartments — now known as Frederiksen court.
As close as some calls come, it was only after 6-year-old Jeffrey moved to Bath, Ohio when he started to display odd, antisocial behavior.
The law finally caught up with him in July 1991, when one of Dahmer"s prospective victims escaped and ran into two Milwaukee police officers.
The police proceeded to search Dahmer"s apartment — finding 'pictures of dismembered corpses in various stages of decay and a 57-gallon drum full of thick, foul-smelling liquid,' as well as a 'severed human head next to a box of baking soda' in his refrigerator, according to the Dahmer biography. When he was arrested, Dahmer admitted to killing 17 boys and men.
— Alex Switzer