Caltech absorbs MIT prank salvo, recovers cannon

Updated: April 12, 2006, 1:19 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PASADENA, Calif. -- Caltech students have reclaimed a 3-ton cannon that was swiped by pranksters from MIT.

Caltech cannon
APCaltech students recapture their cannon, which had been stolen and moved to MIT, on Monday.

Students from the California Institute of Technology flew to Massachusetts and conducted the rescue on Monday, using ropes and a handmade dolly to haul the wood-wheeled cannon to a flatbed truck.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology students had swiped the cannon last month as payback for pranks that Caltech played last year, including handing out T-shirts to hundreds of incoming MIT freshmen that said "MIT" on the front and ".... because not everyone can go to Caltech" on the back.

MIT students posing as movers carted off the cannon last month and had it shipped from California to the East Coast, where it showed up on campus wearing a giant mock MIT class ring and marked by a sign that said it had been transported by "Howe & Ser Moving Company."

Caltech students headed to Massachusetts over the weekend and planned to quietly truck off the 111-year-old cannon in the early morning hours while the MIT campus slumbered.

But the Monday morning rescue mission didn't unfold as planned. They were delayed by MIT campus police, who demanded to see "proof of ownership" of the cannon.

Ultimately the Caltech effort was a success, but the pranks between the two schools are expected to continue.

"I really like the rivalry," said MIT freshman Jon Spaulding. "I'm looking forward to the future and what new pranks come up."

Harvey Mudd College pranksters stole the cannon in 1986.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.