Thursday, September 06, 2001

And now for something that will bore almost all of you...but what the heck, this is my blog. In a little exchange that grew out of a blog post on Ladydusk, someone asked, "What is a boilermaker anyway?

Well here's how Purdue became known as the Boilermakers...

Following the November 23, 1889 Purdue-Wabash game, the weekly Review in Crawfordsville, IN (home of Wabash College), lamented the 18-4 loss to Purdue. The cranky sportswriter called the boys from Purdue the following names: corn huskers, railsplitters, haymakers, log haulers, and blacksmiths. The name "Boilermaker" does not actually occur in that article, but Robert Lackey, class of 1891, and football player for Purdue, claims that "Boilermaker" became the catch-all for these derogatory nicknames. Apparently "Boilermaker" became the common term used at the Wabash campus to refer to the boys from Purdue, for in the October 26, 1891 Daily Argus News report on Purdue's 44-0 drubbing of Wabash, the headline read:

Slaughter of Innocents: Wabash Snowed Completely Under by the Burly Boiler Makers from Purdue

In the November 1 edition of the Lafayette Sunday Times a Lafayette sportswriter commented, "Our players are characterized as 'coal heavers,' boiler makers,' and stevedores."

By October of 1892 the moniker was being used often in the student newspaper at Purdue, The Exponent. So what was originally a term of derision, a scornful nickname, has become the Purdue mascot. We don't have a bland mascot like a "wildcat" or a "tiger" we have a unique and enduring mascot, the boilermaker.

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