Caltech's Fleming Cannon transported to MIT

Location: Between McDermott Court ("The Dot") and the Green Building
Date: Arrived April 6, 2006 during CPW. Rescued by Fleming House on April 10, 2006.
Perpetrators: Howe & Ser Moving Company

The Fleming Cannon normally resides on the Caltech campus in front of Fleming Hovse. At 5:30 a.m. on March 28th, a crew of "movers" absconded with it, presenting phony work orders to the Caltech security guards who challenged them as they were removing it. As the Fleming Cannon was stolen exactly twenty years earlier by rival engineering school Harvey Mudd in 1986, Caltech administrators at first hoped that someone at Harvey Mudd had again stolen the cannon to commemorate the initial theft, and email was sent around pleading for its safe return.

On the morning April 6, the Fleming Cannon appeared on the other side of the country --- in McDermott Court on the MIT campus. The cannon sported a 24 karat gold-plated Brass Rat and a plaque attributing the move to the Howe & Ser Moving Company. According the the plaque, the cannon was pointing towards Caltech.

The Brass Rat was machined out out aluminum stock and then plated in gold. "Brass Rat" is the term used to refer to the MIT class ring. Their name comes from the beaver (the MIT mascot) on the face of the ring. They normally have the MIT and Boston skylines on the front and back. The MIT seal and the great dome typically adorn the sides of the ring. This ring was held to the cannon using four set screws.

The hack attracted International press attention. At some point during the weekend, a "bang" flag appeared on the end of the cannon.

Residents and Alumni of Caltech's Fleming Hovse showed up with a moving truck in the early morning on April 10. They were joined by MIT students who helped to give the cannon a fair-well prior to its cross-country return journey. Fleming left behind a miniature model of the cannon along with a new plaque bearing the letter "F". Flems created a website to chronicle their mission to retrieve the cannon.

The cannon appeared at MIT while many prospective students were visiting for the annual Campus Preview Weekend (CPW). This may have been in retaliation to a series of hacks performed the previous CPW when Caltech students flew to Cambridge to put a banner on the Small Dome and hand out T-shirts to prospective MIT students that read "MIT" on the front and "...because not everyone can go to Caltech" on the back.

The plaque that appeared along with the cannon resembled that on some of the art around campus and was engraved with:

	    April 6, 2006
  MIT hackers posing as the Howe & Ser  
  Moving Company appropriated this cannon
  on March 28, 2006.  It later appeared on  
 MIT's campus with the addition of a large  
  brass rat made of gold-plated aluminum.
   In honor of its previous owners, the
    cannon points towards Pasadena, CA.

At one point during the weekend, MIT women in bathing suits posed with the cannon. The photos were then posted on

Shortly after the cannon appeared, Howe & Ser Moving Company posted a press release to its website (at and, (original archived here) claiming "Howe & Ser Moving Company has completed its latest job: moving a Spanish-American War cannon from the pits of Pasadena, CA to sunny Cambridge, MA. [...] Howe & Ser Moving Co. is an accomplished national moving firm known for its excellent customer service. It has been described as, 'assertive, low-key, and really willing to go the extra 3,000 miles to ensure a bang-up job.'"

[Links to more photos...]

Additional Information and Photo Credits