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Gunnison in Gunnison County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)
 

The World's Largest Collegiate Emblem!

Western State College of Colorado, Gunnison, Colorado

 
 
The World's Largest Collegiate Emblem! Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., October 11, 2020
1. The World's Largest Collegiate Emblem! Marker
Inscription.  

LIGHTING THE "W": One of the great traditions of the West is repeated each year at WSC's Homecoming, often on July 4th, and on some other special occasions. College students ignite oil-soaked rags which outline the legs of the "W." A beautiful sight loved by students, alumni, residents, and visitors.

DESCRIPTION: Western State College's "W" is 420 feet long and 320 feet wide. Each leg is 16 feet thick. Altogether the "W" contains 25,560 square feet, making it the largest such letter in the world and, certainly, the world's largest collegiate emblem.

WHITEWASHING THE "W": [F]or many years the whitewash on the "W" was renewed each year by students and faculty passing buckets of lime and water from the fires which melted the snow to the letter. Official "splashers" applied the whitewash to the rocks. Now, tank trucks haul the water to the top of the mountain, and hydrated lime is distributed to the letter through fire hoses.

HISTORY: "The W" was the inspiration of Dr. John C. Johnson -- one of the first graduates of the college, later biology professor and chairman of The Division of Natural Science

The World's Largest Collegiate Emblem! Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., October 11, 2020
2. The World's Largest Collegiate Emblem! Marker
and Mathematics at WSC, and founder of the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory at Gothic.

On March 30, 1923, Dr. Johnson and four students -- Hugh Dowd, Burtis Adams, Nowell Hamm, and Herbert Axtell -- hiked up the face of Tenderfoot Mountain and laid out the outline of the "W," using bed sheets "borrowed from home." May 2, 1923, was declared a holiday by WSC President Samuel Quigley, and most of the students and faculty climbed the mountain to build the "W."

While the freshmen carried up the ton of lime in 100-pound sacks, upperclassmen and faculty members gathered dead trees from the stand of timber nearby and built several large fires to melt the snow. Together they carried hundreds of heavy flat rocks from the side of the mountain and placed them within the borders of the lines that outlined the "W."
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Education.
 
Location. 38° 32.675′ N, 106° 55.283′ W. Marker is in Gunnison, Colorado, in Gunnison County. Marker is at the intersection of Tomichi Avenue (U.S. 50) and Teller Street, on the left when traveling east on Tomichi Avenue. Marker is in front of the Gunnison County Visitor Center. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 500 East Tomichi Avenue, Gunnison CO 81230, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Gunnison Country (a few steps from this marker); Ho For The Gunnison!

The World's Largest Collegiate Emblem! and Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., October 11, 2020
3. The World's Largest Collegiate Emblem! and Marker
The "W" is visible in the distance on Tenderfoot Mountain
(a few steps from this marker); Two Great Trains (a few steps from this marker); King Coal (a few steps from this marker); Bruce-Frew American Legion Post No. 54 Hut and History (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Middle East [Desert Storm] War Memorial (about 500 feet away); Vietnam War Memorial (about 600 feet away); POW/MIA Memorial (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Gunnison.
 
Also see . . .
1. Western Colorado University. (Submitted on October 26, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Western Colorado University on Facebook. (Submitted on October 26, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
The World's Largest Collegiate Emblem! image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., October 11, 2020
4. The World's Largest Collegiate Emblem!
Looking SE across Jorgensen Park
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 2, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 26, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 54 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on October 26, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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Mar. 2, 2021