Hannah Wilson, English education major and a student recruiter for the University, said, “Of course, it’s impossible to move, meaning the woman is always going to be true.”
Maggie Rowland, Marketing major and fellow recruiter, believes the legend came about from some “creative storytellers.”
The legend has changed throughout the years, with new versions becoming a bit more family friendly.
“The old legend was a bit raunchy,” Rowland said, without going into any specifics on previous iterations.
The lathe has been located on the north side of Samford Hall since 1952, after being moved from Birmingham, where it was being used by Birmingham Rolling Mills in the manufacturing of steel products.
A lathe in its most basic form is a rotating machine tool used to cut, sand, drill or modify an object. The lathe rotates on an axis while the object is modified around it.
Originally designed and created in Selma, Ala., to manufacture cannons during the Civil War, the lathe relocated several times throughout its 151-year life.
During the North’s movements through the state, the Confederacy buried the lathe in Irondale, Ala., to prevent its capture or destruction. The lathe was being transported from Selma to Columbus, Ga., at the time of its burial.
After the threat of the North had passed, the lathe was unearthed and completed its journey to Georgia, where it continued to be used to make cannons until the end of the war.
After the war ended, the lathe was moved to Birmingham Rolling Mills and used to manufacture steel products and then eventually to its current location outside of Samford Hall.
According to the student recruiters, the lathe has not moved since coming to the University.
“We’re supposed to go by the lathe on campus tours,” Wilson said. “I take the group if there are a lot of guys.”
Student recruiters Bradley Burroughs, Amanda Cyr, and Ashton Foss as well as Rowland and Wilson all take their tour groups by the lathe, recounting the legend and the history to the visitors.
Rowland said she tries to get volunteers to participate in the legend of the lathe on her tours.
Sometimes this isn’t feasible, like a time when she toured campus with an all-male Catholic school from Louisiana.
The Alpha Phi Omega fraternity donated the lathe plaque to the University in 1952.
The lathe was given to the University, still known as the Alabama Polytechnic Institute, by the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company in 1936.
The lathe remains a staple of Auburn tours and legend and is one of the oldest pieces of history on campus.