Photo of Members of the UW-Platteville chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers volunteer their time maintaining the "M."

Members of the UW-Platteville chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers volunteer their time maintaining the “M.”

For more than eight decades, the iconic “M” on Platte Mound has not only served as a symbolic tribute to the university’s mining history, but also a cherished outdoor space, offering hiking trails and some of the best views in Southwest Wisconsin. Cade Klefstad, a senior construction management and construction safety management major, is leading initiatives to make sure it stays this way well into the future.

“My passion for the ‘M’ comes from a young age,” said Klefstad, who is originally from Boyceville, Wisconsin. “I have family in Kieler, Wisconsin, and whenever we would drive down to visit them, we would see who could spot the ‘M’ first.”

Once he enrolled at UW-Platteville, Klefstad – an avid outdoorsman – biked to the “M” regularly and began spending time there. Soon after, he joined UW-Platteville’s chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers – the student organization that volunteers its time to maintain the “M.” The group is responsible for weed wacking the “M” every fall; whitewashing the “M” every spring; and setup, cleanup and lighting of the “M” each Homecoming. 

As Klefstad became more involved with the upkeep of the space, he came up with his own ideas for further improvement. 

“Last year, I decided I wanted to bring back more of the natural aspect with native grasses,” said Klefstad. “I was able to partner with the Reclamation Club and get a controlled burn up there for the first time in a couple of decades. This October, we’ll be pushing back the tree line and then in the spring the Reclamation Club will burn and seed it with prairie grasses, so in the future it will be all native, prairie grasses.”  

Klefstad’s additional goals include staining the steps this spring and possibly building a new shed at the top of the mound to store tools. He also created a survey and hopes to gather feedback from members of the Platteville community about their ideas for enhancements.

“I’ve always had a passion for giving back to the community, because they support us,” said Klefstad. “I love the ‘M.’ It’s a great location and a big thing for our community.”

The survey can be accessed online. The Mert W. Bennett ‘M’ Preservation Fund, through the UW-Platteville Foundation, supports maintenance at the “M.” Visit to help support “M” preservation.  

Written by Alison Parkins

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