St. Olaf-Carleton College Rivalry

When the term "rivalry" is used today to describe the relationship between the two colleges, typically it is a reference to an athletic competition. But that was not always the case.

Fundamentally both schools were founded for different reasons and under different circumstances. Carleton, founded in 1866, was supported by East Coast Congregationalists. St. Olaf, founded in 1874, was supported by local Norwegian Lutherans.

Over the 140 years since, both colleges have found ways to express their school pride at the expense of the other. St. Olaf's fight song, "Um! Yah! Yah!" even contains reference to its foe across the Cannon River:

We come from St. Olaf, we sure are the real stuff/Our team is the cream of the colleges great/We fight fast and furious, our team is injurious/Tonight Carleton College will sure meet its fate/Um! Yah! Yah!, Um! Yah! Yah!

For Carleton, the rivalry/jabbing started early. In 1879, the school newspaper, The Carletonian, suggested that St. Olaf students use soap. Since that time the relationship has been slippery, if not memorable.


Turning the Eagle

What do St. Olaf College, Carleton College, and a downtown Northfield Civil War monument adorned with an iron eagle all have in common? Jim Walsh, a blogger for the St. Olaf College Ole Touchdown Club, explained in a blog post after the two rival…

Original Baseball Diamond (1887-1889)

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…

Old Main Homecoming Bonfire

“The Carls are coming! The Carls are coming!” or "The Oles are Coming! The Oles are Coming!" These familiar war cries epitomized the rivalry between Carleton and St. Olaf colleges in the post-World War II era. For students from both schools, the…

Mud Tug

"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…