South Dakota State University’s Coughlin Campanile has become one of the South Dakota’s most famous landmarks. At the time of its completion in 1929, it was the tallest building in South Dakota. Throughout the years, Coughlin Campanile has become the premier symbol of SDSU.
Charles L. Coughlin ’09 donated the funds that were used to construct SDSU’s famous tower in celebration for the 20th anniversary of his graduation in electrical engineering. The final price for the campanile was $75,000.
Formal dedication of Coughlin Campanile took place following commencement ceremonies on June 13, 1930.
Coughlin Campanile is 165 feet high. It was built of white Indiana limestone, red brick, concrete, and steel. There are 180 steps leading to the balcony floor, the highest point reached by visitors, which is 112 feet above the ground.
Coughlin Campanile closed for renovation during the spring of 2000. Many cosmetic improvements were made to repair the seventy years of weathering on the tower. It was reopened and rededicated on September 22, 2001.
“Old Faithful” sounded with pride from its new home atop the campanile. This bell had been taken from its former home in Old Central, SDSU’s first building, where it had sounded for nearly 40 years. “Old Faithful” has since been moved to the Old North Clock Tower which is now located beside Tompkins Alumni Center.
Lincoln Memorial Library
Memorial Library was the first building in South Dakota constructed
with funds gathered from a cigarette tax. It was also the first
land-grant building in the nation named after President Abraham Lincoln.
Today, the building houses the music department.
Lewis McLouth, SDSU’s second president, built this home and it was named Woodbine Cottage. After McLouth’s departure, South Dakota State University bought the house and used it as a girls’ dormitory and briefly as an infirmary. In 1903, it became the official home of the SDSU presidents.
Coolidge Sylvan Theatre
Calvin Coolidge has been the only United States president to visit SDSU. In 1927, Coolidge dedicated this outdoor theatre and Lincoln Memorial Library. Ada B. Caldwell, an art professor, designed Coolidge Sylvan Theatre. The theatre is decorated with wrought iron gates, which were hand forged on campus. Most graduations from 1928 to 1973 were held here. The stage is still used for plays and concerts, and was the site of President Peggy Gordon Miller’s inauguration in the fall of 1998.
One of the most popular stops on campus for visitors and students is the SDSU Dairy Bar, which features the ever famous SDSU Ice Cream. SDSU has one of three dairy programs left in the nation, and is unique in the fact that the plant is run by students.
With more than 100 flavors of ice cream, the Dairy Bar also produces cheese and butter. Approximately 10,000 pounds of milk are processed each week by the Dairy Bar. The SDSU Dairy Bar has provided a long-standing tradition of great products, as well as quality training and education for students.
SDSU’s homecoming week culminates with Hobo Day. Hobo Week includes scheduled events such as Bum Olympics, Hansen Hall Bed Races, and the Cavorts Talents Show. The first Hobo Day was in 1912. It featured a torchlight parade where students dressed in their nightshirts and met their friends, family and returning alumni who were arriving on the nightly train. The next day, the men dressed as bums and the women as Native Americans. Together, they begged for ingredients from Brookings residents to make Bum Stew to feed their visitors. Hobo Day starts with the Hobo Day Parade, where bands, floats, and the Bummobile entertain an enthusiastic crowd. The Parade is followed by the Hobo Day football game.
One of the best-known elements of Hobo Day is the Bummobile. It is a 1912 Model-T Ford that was donated by Joe Weigel, a farmer from Flandreau. The Bummobile appeared for the first time in the 1939 Hobo Day Parade and has remained an integral part of Hobo Day ever since.
When not adding to the Hobo Day festivities, the Bummobile is on display in the Hobo Day Gallery in the Student Union.
Weary Wil & Dirty Lil
Hobo Day is synonymous with two characters, Weary Wil and Dirty Lil. On the first Hobo Day in 1912, Weary Wil appeared with “Old Doc Yak” who carried his superannuated medicine chest, and “Samanthy Jane,” a suffragette from Chicago. Weary Wil remains, but Samanthy and Doc Yak have since been lost in history.
In 1976, Dirty Lil made her first appearance at Hobo Day. Lil’s character evolved out of a song written by the Hobo Day Committee. “Dirty Lil, Dirty Lil; Lived on top of a garbage hill; Never took a bath, never will; Dirty Lil.” Wil and Lil serve as the symbol of all great Hobos. Both characters appear on SDSU’s campus throughout Hobo Week and are alumni of SDSU who were active as students on campus. Their identities remain a secret until halftime of the football game.
Stemmed from the USD rivalry, the cowbell tradition goes back as far as the 1920’s after students of USD referred to SDSC (South Dakota State College) as “cow college.” A story by John M. Ryan from a 1935 edition of the Collegian stated that Robert Bloedel ’28, a former captain of the cheer squad, felt that if SDSC was to be called “cow college” that they might as well be proud of it. Bloedel asked President Pugsley if State fans could bring cowbells to the game and use them to answer the taunts of the Coyotes.
No one may ever know how the cowbell tradition began, but the bell will forever be a tradition for dedicated State fans as they use them when they back the Jacks.
Because no song has been officially decreed as SDSU’s school song, two songs are often heard at athletic events. Ring the Bell is considered SDSU’s fight song, whereas The Yellow and Blue is the alma mater song.
The Yellow and Blue was written by N.E. Hansen, a horticulture professor, with the help of Francis Haynes, a music professor, who put music to Hansen’s words. Ring the Bell was written by Ken Carpenter, a music professor, and Stan Schleuter ’61 as an entry in a contest sponsored by the Music Department. The purpose of the contest was to find a more upbeat fight song.
Ring the Bell
Ring the bell for South Dakota
The Yellow and the Blue;
Cheer the team from South Dakota
With loyal hearts so true;
Win the game for South Dakota
The school that serves us well;
We will fight for South Dakota
SO let’s ring, ring, ring those bells.
Yellow and Blue
We come from the Sioux and Missouri,
The Cheyenne and the Jim,
From pine clad peaks of the Black Hills,
Brimful of vigor and vim,
We sing the song of the prairie,
The home of the Yellow and Blue.
The gleaming gold of the corn field,
The flax of azure hue.
Oh SDSU hurrah for the Yellow and Blue;
Old SDSU all honor and glory to you;
Forever raise the gong in praise both loud and long
With loyal hearts so true (so true).
Exactly how SDSU’s mascot became the Jackrabbit is a source of speculation; however, there are two theories about the Jackrabbit’s origin. The first theory stems from a cartoon in the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper after the University of Minnesota and SDAC football teams played in 1905. The artist depicted the SDAC team as jackrabbits with the phrase, “The SDAC team was as quick as Jackrabbits.”
The second theory comes from SDSU’s yearbook, The Jack Rabbit. In 1907, a poem written by a group of juniors was featured in the yearbook. This poem changed the name of the yearbook from The Quirt to The Jack Rabbit. Many believe that following this, the athletic teams adopted the Jackrabbit as SDSU’s mascot.
Regardless of the origins of the name of the mascot, SDSU is only college or university in the nation with the Jackrabbit as its mascot. Many coaches still believe that spotting a rabbit on the day of a contest ensures victory.