The Story Behind BC's Boulders

boulder project team loading a large boulder onto a trailer truck

Friday, September 8, 2023

“BC’s Campus Boulders” was originally published in the Renegade RIP on December 11, 1998, and was written by Mary Helen Barro, a Renegade RIP student

Even though I’m a rock lover, when folks began commenting about the new crop of boulders that recently appeared on campus, I must confess, I didn’t pay enough attention. Then one day I got in my car and drove around to check them out. The boulders look good. But to my pleasant surprise, there’s much more to this than meets the eye. Here’s what I found out.  

It seems that the Chancellor, Dr. Jim Young, thought that the new BC landscaping efforts looked nice but lacked pizzazz, so he got together with Chris Addington of The Addington Partnership, the BC campus architects. “I thought that the boulders would add dimension and make the landscaping look nicer,” said Young. But big rocks are expensive, so he set out to get them donated.  

Young approached Jim Nickel of the Rio Bravo Ranch Nickel family. The Nickels have a stockpile of boulders near the mouth of the Kern River Canyon left over from a hydroelectric project: “We’re pleased to donate them to worthy causes like BC’s landscaping project,” said Nickel.  

So over a weekend last month [Nov., 1998], Young and some volunteers rolled up their sleeves, rented a crane, and hauled eight truckloads of boulders from the Rio Bravo Ranch to the perimeter of the campus. In addition to beautifying the BC campus, some of the rocks also were placed at the Weill Institute.  

Who were those mighty warriors? Jan Stuebbe of BC, Luis Miro, Ignacio Azevedo and Raul Gonzales of Cerro Coso College, along with Bob Varner, Darrell Hickey and Jose Vargas of the Addington Partnership. It took them three days, working from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. to get the job done. All that hard work saved the college a ton of money. According to The Addington Partnership, boulders run from $700 to $1,000 each on the open market, plus $10 to $12 an hour for labor and transportation costs. 

During the first phase of the big rock project, Young and his volunteers moved about 120 Boulders. In total, about 260 boulders are in the plans. That’s a potential saving of some $250,000 to $400,000 for BC, not to mention the aesthetic benefits those big puppies bring to the campus. The other 140 boulders are scheduled for the next phase of the BC landscape enhancement project. Some of these boulders are slated to enhance the area between the Student Services and Science & Engineering buildings and other places where students like to gather.  

Young is looking for more volunteers for the next time. “We’re hoping to have a volunteer boulder-moving day,” said Young, “since some of the boulders will be partially buried, we’ll need a lot of extra hands.”  

Our thanks to Young, the Nickel family, The Addington Partnership and other volunteers who have worked on getting us the boulders. Keep an eye out. The Renegade Rip will publish the next “boulder-moving day” date.  

Like Martha Stewart says, “It’s a good thing.” 

Editor's note from the Fall 2014 Archives Newsletter, Jim Young, July 15, 2013: 

The photo shows the excavation of the boulders that were placed at Bakersfield College. They were taken from the property of George Nickel east of Bakersfield along the Kern River. George’s son Jim worked along with Jim Young on this project.  

Luis Miro, of Ridgecrest was the designer/architect on the project. The placement of the rocks on the BC campus began January 1999. At that time, Chris Addington was the official Architect for the Kern Community College. “Louie” [Miro] was the person in charge of the actual project along with the Chancellor, Jim Young.  

There are 243 boulders located on the BC campus. Of the boulders taken for the project, one was taken to Cerro Coso College and a couple of others were placed at the Downtown Center and located in the back parking lot area.

members of the boulder project team standing in front of a large boulder

boulder being loaded onto a crane