The University of Rhode Island owns more land than any other state university in New England. Much of it is the W. Alton Jones Campus -- 2,309 acres of woodland, lakes and farm fields.

A gift from Mrs. Nettie Marie Jones in 1962, the land was dedicated to youth and science in 1964 by then URI President Francis H. Horn and then Gov. John H. Chafee. As part of a 50th anniversary celebration, the campus will be rededicated Sunday, Sept. 24, 2012 by URI President David M. Dooley and John Chafee's son, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee.

Over the past 50 years, the W. Alton Jones Campus has become a jewel for the state, in many cases a hidden gem.

It's become a laboratory for scientists studying nature, a getaway for business people meeting to make decisions without distractions, a place of wonder and adventure for young campers, a gorgeous setting for weddings, and a refuge for wildlife.

And it all started with a gift from the widow of an eccentric businessman.