Juneau man wants McKinley rock for Chicago collection

Posted: Monday, April 03, 2000

JUNEAU (AP) -- A Juneau man wants a souvenir from the top of the nation's highest peak, but not for himself. He wants to add it to a famed rock collection in Chicago.

Michael Orelove, a retired state worker, envisions the chunk of Mount McKinley in a place of prominence at the Tribune Tower, whose sidewalk-level exterior features 138 stones and artifacts carefully selected from around the world.

A piece of Egypt's Pyramid of Cheops is there, along with parts of the Great Wall of China, the Alamo, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Little Big Horn battlefield where Custer made his last stand.

In fact, every state in the union is represented in the collection save one -- Alaska.

That fact appalled Orelove, who was born and raised in Chicago and lived there for 30 years before moving to Juneau in 1973.

Orelove offered a gold nugget to the collection, but was told that any Alaska sample needed to be ''official.''

So he settled on a 6-inch-square rock from the top of 20,320-foot Mount McKinley. He detailed his quest in letters to the National Park Service, the governor's office, legislators and others.

''I have no political agenda,'' Orelove said. ''It's just a fun thing.''

Replies are hailing the idea as a good one. But Orelove still doesn't have his rock.

He hopes now to get permission for a Colorado-based scientist doing research on McKinley beginning next month to collect the contribution.

Orelove wants to transport the rock personally to Chicago -- where he hopes to have a ceremony so it can be officially accepted as ''a gift from Alaska to the citizens of Chicago and the world.''

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