CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Steven McKowen arrived at the bottom of the exit ramp of Leon Sullivan Way with a pretty big payload on his flatbed truck.
His arrival ended the journey of a 30,000-pound boulder from Marietta, Ohio, to its new home in the Mary Price Ratrie Greenspace, located across the street from Charleston's Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences.
The boulder represented one heck of a heavy conversation piece.
And it still had to be moved into place.
By 10:30 a.m. Wednesday traffic was stopped, and phase two of the Mary Price Ratrie Greenspace was under way.
That left plenty of time for Susie Salisbury, vice president of community development for the Charleston Area Alliance, to explain the greenspace and the big rock's role in it.
The greenspace is an Alliance project named in honor of Mary Price Ratrie, an avid gardener and philanthropist who died in 2010. The East End park was first proposed in 1996 and is meant to reflect the Charleston area's history of transportation, culture and the environment.
Salisbury said both the greenspace and the boulder are to educate the community.
"Its whole purpose is to really give folks in the Kanawha Valley a real sense of what used to be here before the region developed," Salisbury said.
The boulder - 7 feet tall, 11 feet long and 4 feet wide at its base - resembles a whale or turtle with a tail or head-shaped steppingstone as its base. It has a tannish-gold tint that shimmers in the sunlight.
Curious onlookers lined both sides of Leon Sullivan Way as five workers began to level and anchor the crane. The boulder is the same type and color of the already-in-place sandstone that provides seating in the greenspace.
The same 115-ton capacity crane that lifted the iconic statue in front of the Clay Center was ready to make its mark on the city again. Workers anchored each side of the crane to 1,000-pound red slates on the ground.
For about an hour, workers readied machines and looked for ways to drop the boulder into the greenspace without damaging newly planted trees or streetlights.
Once an entryway was selected, workers then harnessed a single red slate with four steel cables on each side.