Historic “M” Hill landmark to receive upgrade, makeover

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Since it was first placed on the hill in 1912, M Hill’s giant “M” has been a staple sight of the Rapid City skyline. Sitting at 112.5 feet tall by 67 feet wide, it is a hard landmark to miss, even at night.

Progress On The M Courtesy Of Calvin Tohm South Dakota MinesAccording to South Dakota Mines, horses were used to pull more than one hundred loads of rocks to the top for material. Students were then given a day off to assemble the materials together to form the letter.

Concrete replaced the rock ten years later in 1922, with the “S” and “D” being added in the 1950’s.

And this year the symbol is getting a much-needed face lift a head of this year’s “M” day celebrations, on top of the class graduations plaques being taken for cleaning.

“It was kind of dangerous for students to be able to go up and do our tradition of sliding down the ‘M.’ There were more injuries that were occurring,” Student Calvin Tohm said. “So this was about fixing that and making it safer for everyone else, so, kind of re-amping school spirit.”

The movement to replace the “M” started around three years ago as a senior design project by a group of students and was later picked up by Dr. Scott Kenner. Members of the community, businesses, and even alumni have all stepped in with anything they can to help make the piece a reality.

Around 26 yards of concrete were poured in Tuesday morning, with plans to transport around eight more loads for placement between now and the August 1 completion date.

“So the problem that they had with the current ‘M’ is that when they poured it, they did not put any rebar in it so everything started to separate,” he explained. “And then the ‘M’ actually started to slide down the hill. So now they have added some blocks on the bottom and they have also added some piers to help prevent the ‘M’ from sliding down.”

Over the years, it had slid round 1.5 feet down from its original position.

Along with the treated rebar and structures to stop any sliding, the goal is for the concrete to last at least another 100 years.

However for Tohm, who started working on the project as a junior at the school and finishing it as an alum, the “M” will forever be tied to his own school legacy.

“I can come back for years and say ‘Hey, I got to help out with this.’

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