GSOC Yardsticks are Out of this World!

The infamous Gopher State One Call yardsticks can be used in many ways, but one recent purpose was out of this world.

If you visit the Minnesota State Fair, chances are you’ll see other fair goers walking around with the bright, multi-colored yardsticks Gopher State One Call (GSOC) distributes every year. These yardsticks could be used as walking sticks after you’ve consumed too much deep fried food on a stick at the fair, or used to make sure you are practicing safe excavation at home by keeping outside the two-foot tolerance zone (after you’ve called GSOC and waited two business days for the underground facility operators to mark their facilities, of course!)

Another use for the yardstick, however, is simply out of this world...


Bruce and Nelva Lilienthal

Meet Bruce and Nelva Lilienthal of Arlington, Minn. The Lilienthals have lived on a farm outside of town for over 30 years where they harvest corn and beans, and even maintain their own little zoo complete with kangaroos, exotic birds and a camel named Jude.The Lilienthals have been frequent State Fair participants for many years and have accumulated quite the collection of yardsticks from the GSOC booth. In the past, Bruce and Nelva have used the yardsticks for various tasks around the farm; however, they had no idea the purpose the yardsticks would serve this past spring!

Two years ago, while performing the usual spring chore of picking rock out in the field, Bruce came across a huge object that was nothing like the field rock he’d picked in the past. He knew he had found something special so he ended up keeping it. It’s a good thing he had his GSOC yardstick on hand so he could measure the rock to find out how big this beast really was! It measured nearly 16 ½ inches wide and weighed 33 pounds. Bruce added this unusual rock to his collection of other unique and odd rock finds outside the barn, but still, this one stood out.

Lilienthal Rock Collection

This past spring, curiosity got the best of Bruce and Nelva and they decided to finally find out more about this strange rock. They took the rock to be examined at the University of Minnesota and finally got their answer of why it was so special. It turns out this strange find Bruce came across a few years prior and measured with his GSOC yardstick was a meteorite that had fallen from outer space.

One of the first clues to determining if a rock is indeed a meteorite is to perform the magnet test. Because a meteorite consists of metals such as iron, nickel, cobalt and phosphorus, the rock will be magnetic. The Lilienthal’s rock passed the magnet test, so they proceeded with additional testing.

GSOC Magnet on Meteorite

“The University told us they had a lot of ‘meteor-wrongs’ that came to be tested, but that this one was actually a ‘meteor-right!’” Bruce said.

A meteorite is a solid piece of debris that comes from asteroids or comets originating in outer space that survives impact with the Earth’s surface. When in space, this debris is called a meteoroid, once it enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it’s called a meteor, and if it survives the crash into Earth’s surface, it’s classified as a meteorite. If rocks could talk, this one would have quite the story to tell of its journey to Arlington!

The Lilienthal’s story is big news for the small town of just over 2,200 people, and it’s turned them into local celebrities around the entire state. Another claim to fame to come out of this story is the GSOC yardstick! Many news and media outlets from around Minnesota have visited Bruce and Nelva’s farm to hear their incredible story and get pictures with the meteorite, and in several photos, the GSOC yardstick can be seen stating, “Call Before You Dig.” These photos have arguably turned our yardstick into the most popular measuring device in Minnesota!

Kare 11 News Meteorite Photo

Bruce and Nelva’s amazing find is the second largest meteorite to ever be discovered in Minnesota, and is also thought to be a part of another meteorite that was found several miles away an estimated 120 years ago. Who knows, there could be other pieces out there just waiting to be found. No doubt about it, the Lilienthals will keep an eye open for other meteorite fragments in the future. But for now, they are just enjoying telling their fascinating story. It’s not every day you find a meteorite in your own backyard!

To get your own (now even more famous!) colorful GSOC yardstick, stop by our booth at the Minnesota State Fair. You never know what you may end up using it for one day, just ask the Lilienthals!

Jude the Camel

What do YOU use your Gopher State One Call yardstick for? Send us a photo of how you use your yardstick with your name and city to and we’d love to share it on our Facebook fan page and website!