This Week in Colorado History December 6 – December 12: Mines Athletics

Colorado School of Mines football fans can be delighted by the performance of their team in 1912. This week, ninety-eight years ago, the Orediggers, then known as the Miners, defeated Pomona College in Claremont, California. The Oredigger’s 13-0 underdog victory came only moments after they arrived in California! The team experienced a sixteen hour delay due to the wreck of a freight train, preventing their train from passing through. Ultimately, in spite of not being able to practice in California, the Orediggers triumphed in the fourth quarter to the delight of a small fan base of transplanted Coloradoans.

Perhaps in honor of their victory in California, the Colorado Transcript ran an article the same week, advocating a new football field for the Orediggers. The paper suggested, “[T]hat the city turn over for the use of the [Mines athletic] association a section of the city park big enough to lay out a gridiron and a diamond, with space on each side for grand stands.”

Though surely some motivation for this came from a desire to improve athletic performance, much of this desire actually arose from a desire to protect human life. It had been argued since the 1890’s that the soil in the football field contained some sort of chemical, likely arsenic, which caused illnesses to those students unlucky enough to have “suffered simple abrasions of the skin.” This discussion was brought to the forefront by the death of a player (and professor’s son) Leo Schneider. Of course, in addition to protecting human life, the field would also have allowed the Mines-CU game to be held in Golden instead of Boulder.

On a more seasonal note, apparently the Colorado Transcript had caught a bit of the Scrooge spirit in 1912, as they sarcastically commented, “If you have any idea that Santa Claus has passed away, get the Christmas number of LIFE. If there is any conceivable form in which he still remains to be depicted, we do not know what it is.”

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