NCSU bell tower damaged, possibly struck by lightning

Posted May 6, 2009

— Lightning is believed to have damaged North Carolina State University's bell tower, which was surrounded with yellow police tape on Wednesday.

The lightning is believed to have hit at 6:55 p.m. Tuesday, said Jack Colby, assistant vice chancellor of facility operations. Some nearby witnesses said the strike displaced a 24-inch capstone, which sat atop the tall tower. A chunk of the granite was knocked out of it.

On Wednesday, pieces of granite littered the ground and the capstone teetered on the edge of the tower.

Two men wearing harnesses made their way up the inside of the tower to try to secure it. The tower's clock stood frozen, however the device that sounds the bells was still working Wednesday morning.

NCSU Bell Tower damaged, possibly struck by lightning Bell tower damaged, possibly struck by lightning

The tower did stop working for a short period of time, Colby said. The breakers tripped, which helped protect the other electrical equipment.

In the past 10 years the tower has been hit by lightning a few times, Colby said. "This was the first time there was actual physical damage," he said.

The tower was built as a memorial to the university's 33 World War I dead, and the iconic structure was partially completed by 1922.

For decades, the 115-foot landmark has set the stage for campus events such as the annual Krispy Kreme Run.

In an interview last month, graduate student Matthew Robbins said the memorial is incomplete as it stands. He and some other students are trying to raise enough money to install the 54 bells that were part of the original design.

Some students who are part of the Class of 2010 want the bell's completion to be their gift to the school. The students don't plan to use any tax money for the bells. It could be a couple of years before real bells replace the recorded chimes and speakers.

Read more about students' efforts to finish the tower and add real bells.

Students and officials are now trying to repair the tower before commencement this weekend. Officials will be bringing in a crane to work on the tower.

“I’m graduating in a couple of days and now there’s all this tape around it,” N.C. State senior Christine Craven said on Wednesday after she picked up a piece of the granite on the ground surrounding the tower. “It’s a big part of going here.”


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  • dbcooper41 May 6, 2009

    i don't think you guys believe my story but i swear every word is true.

  • Frizz May 6, 2009

    This too is part of the Carolina conspiracy against NC State. I knew they had a lot of political influence over in Chapel Hill but I never thought they could have this kind of impact on the weather.

  • Deb1003 May 6, 2009

    LOL...DeLorean in the cow pasture, flux capacitor, tire tracks......I see I'm not the only one that thought of Back to the Future.

  • BottomLine May 6, 2009

    Greg FIshel mentioned the strength of yesterdays storm was 1.2 gigawatts ...

  • lgilbert1 May 6, 2009

    Yea, I saw that lightning strike on air too... It did look like it hit right on the tower. 88 MILES PER HOUR!!!

  • Space Mountain May 6, 2009

    Well, State fans have been stuck back in time for years.

  • Me again May 6, 2009

    Did anybody check the cow pasture at the vet school to see if there was a DeLorean?

  • dbcooper41 May 6, 2009

    the time was 6:54 belltower time which is a few minutes off.

  • dbcooper41 May 6, 2009

    it was a total back to the future moment. me and several friends saw a flash out the window and looked to see what on hillsboro st was hit by lightning. we didn't see anything smoking so we returned to our regularly scheduled drinking. then a naked guy came streaking down enterprise headed for the belltower. he made a couple of laps around it and found a big chunk of granite. he picked it up like atlas, looked to see where it came from and posed. so there he is, naked in the rain holding his stone up to the heavens. it was very cool!
    he said he had his last class at ncsu yesterday so he got a rare souvenier of his state years. and yes, there are pics somewhere to prove every word of this.

  • colliedave May 6, 2009

    Some students who are part of the Class of 2010 want the bell's completion to be their gift to the school. The students don't plan to use any tax money for the bells

    More hack writing from WRAL as the two sentiences don't seem to fit. Does this mean they are not going to use their tax returns to help fix the tower?