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You’re skating on…campus ice?

I, for one, do not enjoy these cold temperatures and am ready for spring. But in January 1916, many IU students were crossing their fingers for some snow and a cold snap so that they could skate on the Jordan!

I know what you are thinking – the Jordan River? That’s some pretty lousy skating. And I’d have to agree with you there.

No, in 1916, what is now the IMU parking lot was still home to IU’s multi-purpose Jordan Field.

It was home to baseball…

IU's Jimmy Boyle, circa 1902
IU’s Jimmy Boyle, circa 1902

football…

IU vs. Purdue, November 20, 1909

Class scraps….

1909 class scrap

And in 1916 — ice skating!

As reported in the February 6, 1908 IDS, Jordan Field was practically useless in the winter and folks on campus had been talking about some sort of winter use of the ground for quite some time. The first flooding of Jordan Field occurred under the watchful eye of IU’s football coach James Sheldon in 1908, but it is not clear whether or not their plan succeeded. However by 1916, recreational ice skating had received attention across the country and IU officials and students decided to give it another go.

This time, responsibility of the skating rink would come under the auspices of the Indiana Union. According to IDS reports, Union Director A.H. Berndt proposed other sites, including Dunn Meadow or a site just south of campus that would cover two acres of land. These proposals, however, were much more involved,  as it would “be necessary to build a damn four or five feet in height and thirty to forty feet long.” On December 14, 1915, the Union Board held its weekly session to decide on its final actions regarding the rink. The next day, students were met with these headlines:

skating018

Oh, the excitement! Beginning January 8, the student newspaper reported on the rink happenings on a near daily basis, detailing the steps taken to flood the field and smooth out the ice. The weather was all over the place – remember, it’s Indiana! – but finally by the 14th students had the opportunity to give the ice a try. 

Author- Dina Kellams

Director, Indiana University Archives. For more great IU history, follow us on Twitter @iubarchives or Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IUBArchives/

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