Office of University Relations
SDSM& T News
501 E. St. Joseph Street • Rapid City, SD 57701- 3995
Phone: ( 605) 394- 6082/ 2554 • Fax: ( 605) 394- 6177
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
( September 24, 1998)
SDSM& T TRADITION OF CLIMBING M- HILL SPANS EIGHT DECADES
When SDSM& T students climb M- Hill and whitewash the “ M” this Friday as part of their homecoming celebration, they will be continuing a tradition that spans over eight decades. At noon on Friday, September 26, SDSM& T freshman students will march from campus to a picnic at the base of M- Hill on Omaha Street. Following the picnic, the students will climb M- Hill, place the senior and freshman plaques, and then whitewash the “ M” with a mudslide down the concrete slabs.
The M- Hill tradition dates back to October, 1912, when a large “ M” was constructed on Cowboy Hill, located on the west side of Rapid City. According to SDSM& T Centennial: An Illustrated History 1885- 1995, the idea of an “ M” dated back several years prior to 1912 when several students and faculty proposed placing a large letter in a prominent spot to help advertise the school. Although erecting an electric sign was one of the possibilities considered, the decision was made to have the students construct an “ M” because it would lessen the cost and would be a valuable learning experience for the students.
School of Mines President Dr. C. C. O’Harra gave the students a holiday on October 8, 1912, to build the huge “ M” on land owned by prominent local businessman Tom Sweeney, who had given his consent to the project. Approximately 75 students and teachers brought their picks, shovels, and other tools to Cowboy Hill that day. Two teams of horses with plows and wagons were used to loosen and remove the soil. After using more than 100 wagon loads of rock to fill in the area, the students then whitewashed the newly constructed “ M”.
Measuring 112 by 67 feet, the “ M” was hailed as the largest letter in the state and could be seen from twelve miles away. For the next eleven years, ��� M Day” consisted of pulling the weeds between the stones and whitewashing the letter. In 1922, the stones were replaced with concrete.
The M- Hill climb and whitewashing of the “ M” has been a homecoming tradition at SDSM& T for many years. After placing the plaque listing the names of the 1998- 99 seniors, the students will whitewash the “ M” at approximately 1: 30 p. m. by sliding down the concrete slabs. Mud volleyball games follow at 3: 00 p. m. at the bottom of M- Hill along Omaha Street.
( Media advisory: Rides will be provided to transport media members and their equipment to the top of M- Hill. Call University & Public Relations, 394- 2554, to make arrangements.)
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