President Trotter warned against attacks on freshmen because fights throughout the
city between freshmen and sophomores could not be condoned as college custom. In
a charge to the student government, he said in 1925: “Student officers will please
see that further melees do not occur on city streets. Keep your foolishness off the
We have an athletic field here where you can club each other
, but in the
future keep student frays off the streets.”
Rhody Room restaurant
was on the second floor of the Mountainlair where the Rhododendron Room
is currently located. The restaurant had made-toorder sandwiches and salads and
only faculty and staff knew about it.
An architect's drawing of the Mountainlair in 1964.
The Mountainlair also once had an
ice cream shop, a sundries counter and a pastry counter.
formerly known as the Buffeteria.
The food court area was built during the first Mountainlair renovation around 1988.
There was a Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Little Caesars, JACS (Just Another Convenience
Store), Hatfields, Javas Coffee Shop, Scoops Ice Cream Parlor and a sandwich cart
that offered vegetarian sandwiches.
Fuzzy Knight wrote a pep song, “
Fight Mountaineers," which is still frequently used by the Mountaineer
Marching Band 90 years later. He also wrote the melody for a WVU song entitled,
“To Thee Our Alma Mater,” with words by a fellow graduate David A. Christopher.
Knight’s first notable film role was in “She Done Him Wrong,” and he went on to
appear in more than 180 films over the next 30 years.
The ORchesis Dance Ensemble in 1969. Photo courtesy of the West Virginia &
Regional History Center, WVU Libraries.
The Orchesis Dance Ensemble
founded in 1928 was the beginning of dance at WVU. The group of women experimented
with what they called free expression dance, now known as modern dance.
An undated photo of men working on a nuclear accelerator at WVU.
In 1956, WVU offered a
nuclear engineering degree
, but by 1972 the program, which had seen declining enrollment, ended
and the nuclear reactor that was part of the program was removed from the basement
of Armstrong Hall and sent back to Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The first engineering dean at WVU, William Sleeper Aldrich wrote in his diary after
it was announced in 1897 that women could be admitted to all departments except
the military: “This is an outrage.
Women in engineering? Never!!! … It is a man’s field … It requires intellectual
perception, a keen mind, quick wit, and able body … There are no women in this
profession … there never have been, there never will be.” We proved him wrong.
Quarterback Geno Smith following the 2012 Orange Bowl. Photo by Dale Sparks.
The 70 points West Virginia scored against Clemson in the 2012 Discover Orange Bowl
all-time bowl record for the most points scored by a single team.
Prior to its adoption of the mascot “Mountaineers”
West Virginia’s football team once called itself “The Snakers”
— a nickname that first surfaced in the late 1890s and continued throughout
the early 1900s.
The worst defeat in WVU football history
took place on Oct. 22, 1904, when Michigan defeated West Virginia 130–0. The coach
for the Wolverines that day was none other than WVU graduate Fielding Yost.
West Virginia is the
20th all-time winningest football program in college football history with
731 victories heading into the 2017 season.
Three consecutive West Virginia coaches from 1970–2000 are in the
College Football Hall of Fame: Bobby Bowden, Frank Cignetti and Don Nehlen.
The first-ever night football game WVU played happened long before lights were common
in college football stadiums. It happened on Nov. 23, 1901, when WVU faced Marietta
College in Morgantown. A train accident caused the Marietta team to arrive late
for the game, and artificial lighting was provided by adjacent buildings on campus,
lanterns and some
spectators lighting matches near the field so the players could see where the sidelines
WVU’s season-opening football game against Ohio State on Sept. 5, 1998, was the
first college football game ever televised in High Definition, CBS’s
high-def signal being transmitted to a small viewing area in Columbus.
WVU’s football game against Pitt at Forbes Field on Oct. 8, 1921, was the
first-ever college football game broadcast on radio. It was carried by
KDKA in Pittsburgh. The Panthers won the game 21–13.
Uh oh. At one of the annual fall engineering gatherings that started in the 1920s,
a student engineering society
switched the movie that was to be shown
with an uncensored blue movie to the non-amusement of the faculty.
When influenza struck after World War I in 1919,
the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house became an emergency hospital.
Of the 2,697 WVU students who saw active service in World War I, 46 died.
Eight of them died in action and the rest died in the epidemic.
During World War II, four members of
WVU’s Army Specialized Training Program were selected to go to Los Alamos
to work in the U.S.’s development of the atomic bomb.
In 1970, Aerospace engineering professors John Loth and Jerome Fanucci with the help
of graduate students
created the short takeoff and landing aircraft, known as STOL, with funding
from the Office of Naval Research.
Photo courtesy of the West Virginia & Regional History Center, WVU Libraries.
Before an armory was created, around 1872,
cadets kept their weapons at their residences.
Photo courtesy of the West Virginia & Regional History Center, WVU Libraries.
The Legend of Falling Run Hollow: The 1901 edition of The Monticola describes
a spooky tradition in which students were tempted to venture into Falling Run late
at night. “The dissecting house is located there, and the spirits of the departed
subjects are supposed to hover over the dead bodies.” One student supposedly felt
sharp claws sticking into his neck as he crept near the morgue.
Rutherford B. Hayes, you’re our only hope.
In 1877–78, WVU had one professor from the War Department, Lt. James M.
Ingalls, who headed the cadet corps and taught military science. He also taught
undergraduate mathematics, and was so popular and effective that West Virginia
Sen. Waitman T. Willey (of Willey Street fame) wrote to President Rutherford B.
Hayes to keep Ingalls stationed at WVU. Hayes responded that he could not countermand
the War Department. Ingalls went on to found the U.S. Army Ballistics School in
Fort Monroe, Va.
Marmaduke Dent was the first alumnus of WVU. He was the first to receive
a bachelor’s degree in 1870 as well as a master’s degree in 1873. Born in Granville,
W.Va., he became a teacher. He later became an attorney and was elected to the
West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. He was in the majority of the pioneering
1898 civil rights case Carrie Williams v. Board of Education that ruled that black
students were entitled to the same length of school term as white students and
that Williams, a teacher, was entitled to the same pay.
WVU has not always been a major university
in terms of enrollment. In its first year, 1867–68, the University welcomed
124 students. Nearly 10 years later, however, in 1876–77, enrollment dropped to
an all-time low of 93.
In 1946, President Stewart sent a note to the community that “
The University is desperately in need of all living accommodations available
in Morgantown or in outlying communities” because fall enrollment estimates of
4,500 had reached 6,000. He set an example by making available the second floor
of the president’s home to five war veterans who paid regular dormitory fees.
The puppetry major
is one of only three across the country.
The number of dues-paying members in the
WVU Alumni Association: 28,000. (You could be our newest member.)
You are an important part of WVU’s history
. Tell us your WVU story by emailing us at
. We can’t wait to hear it.
Bill Case, B.J. Adams, Christy Venham, Michael Ridderbusch, John Cuthbert, Zachariah
Fowler, Phoenicia Keffer, Tom Sloane, Kathy Curtin, Kim Cameon, Tatsu Johnson,
James Jolly, Mary Dillon, John Antonik, Octavia Spriggs, Henry Gould, Jessica
Eichlin, “The First 100 Years: A History of the West Virginia Agricultural and
Forestry Experiment Station” by Ernest J. Nesius, “The First One Hundred Years
of Engineering Education at West Virginia University” by Edwin C. Jones Sr.,
“Aspiring to Greatness: West Virginia University” by Ronald L. Lewis, “West Virginia
University: Symbol of Unity in a Sectionalized State” by William T. Doherty and
Festus P. Summers, e-WV: the West Virginia Encyclopedia, “WVU Women: The First
Century,” Anna Schein, The Daily Athenaeum and the “Monticola.”