Taft Greeted by Elephant, 1908 One of the more interesting events to take place at the Northfield Depot was the brief whistle-stop presidential campaign tour in 1908 of Republican William H. Taft, then secretary of war and Theodore Roosevelt’s…

In the summer of 1932, Arnold Flaten '22 returned to campus after studying art in Europe for two years. Charged with creating an art department, and supported by a generous gift of $5,000 from the Carnegie Corporation to the college, Flaten designed…

Where else but in a homecoming parade do you see female students in puffy pastel crinolines perched on an Army jeep, or the physics club's gigantic "Amazon Queen of Science" float? In the decade-plus following World War II, Oles crafted chicken wire…

The first-ever Norwegian royal visit to St. Olaf College occurred on May 7 and 8, 1939, Crown Prince Olav and Princess Märtha and their entourage were billeted overnight in the newly constructed Agnes Mellby Hall. The entire first floor and part of…

"I wanted to make St. Olaf so nice no student would ever have to apologize for it," said John Berntsen, former head of the St. Olaf College grounds. He retired in 1964 after fifty-two years of devoted service. One of his pet projects over the mid…

Ytterboe the Dog Nearly sixty years after his fateful demise, Ytterboe the Dog (affectionately known as Bo) remains very much a part of St. Olaf campus lore. Although he belonged to no one in particular, the black mongrel with chow traits first…

For several decades, newly minted St. Olaf graduates stood in a ring, clasping hands while stating the Alumni Pledge in Norwegian, "Enig og tro indtil Manitou falder (United and loyal till Manitou falls)." The phrase was derived from the vow taken by…

Salad Days of The Mighty Caesars In the mid-1930s, ten St. Olaf fellows boarded off campus at 914 West Second Street. They called themselves “The Mighty Caesars.” This name was derived from a “liberated” brash red and white-lettered…

For several decades, the hollow elm near Ladies' Hall provided a wonderful photographic setting for the St. Olaf community. In the college's early years, the tree's cavity was burned to prevent further decay and was tended as an integral part of the…

Nearly a century ago, Georgina Rostad ex-'19 posed for a picture standing next to the St. Olaf Rock. From Rostad’s time to the present, countless others have similarly been photographed in front of, on top of and next to the rock, which has the…

"Take one big hole, fill with water, add a mixture of Oles and Carls, throw in a rope, splash around, make one big mess—it's the Mud-Tug!" Aptly named, the annual freshmen tradition for St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges started in 1954 as a…

From 1887 to 1889, the original baseball field, situated at the foot of the hill below Old Main on the southeast side, was far from ideal. A raised wooden sidewalk traversed the outfield for students to climb the hill. More than once the game was…

The Manitou Messenger headline, "Test Tube Wielders Storm Chemistry Hut” (November 18, 1919), announced the latest and by far the quickest building ever erected on the St. Olaf College campus. The unpretentious wood-frame building, dubbed the Chem…

The “devil at your doorstep” was how the St. Olaf College administration viewed a small brewery and beer garden once located directly behind Thorson Hall. In 1885, Adolph Grafmueller purchased the land adjoining Manitou Heights. He enlarged a…

“St. Olaf Shakespeare Cast Give Play in Real Forest," stated a newspaper headline for the 1924 spring inauguration production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Over the next seventeen years, until 1941, Norway Valley hosted twelve additional…

As the son of the chemistry department chair, Peter Agre spent many hours as a child in the 1950s playing on the St. Olaf College campus, including at the Pop Hill ski jump. Years later, Agre recounted those experiences: “In summer, we climbed the…

"Times have changed," declared the 1948 St. Olaf yearbook. With the post-World War II enrollment up from 100 to 900 men, both students and administration faced housing hardships. One solution was the creation in January 1947 of a "temporary"…

The valley of the stalwart pines beneath the college hill Away from all the campus stir—a place so quiet and still . . . So wrote St. Olaf College’s athletic coach, Ade Christenson, to his beloved in 1926. Others like him over…

What do golf balls, bullet casings, baby food jars, and a 1902 silver half dollar all have in common? Each item was found by someone poking around in Norway Valley. Since the early 1880s, students have made the woods their playground, and faculty…

Under a canopy of basswoods and sugar maples in Norway Valley, fifty yards east of the water tower, sits a monument dedicated to Reverend Ole O. Fugleskjel, a member of the St. Olaf College class of 1894. The nine-foot pillar of St. Cloud gray…

Tanks A Lot! Nestled in Norway Valley are two domed water tanks which were constructed in the spring of 1961 for the city of Northfield. As early as 1904, the city placed its first water tank on Manitou Heights to take advantage of the natural…

Since its completion in the spring of 1948, the 150,000-gallon capacity St. Olaf Water Tower has attracted its fair share of mischief-makers. Students climbing to the top leaving their mark or engaging in clandestine activity have been the norm for…