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Early Hoofers History

Compiled by Chris Hartman for the University Archives

1920s | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s

January 11, 1920 Disappointed that their favorite pastime was virtually unheard of in the Midwest, a group of Norwegian exchange students decided to build a ski jump on the UW-Madison campus. Over winter break, sixteen students built a wooden jump on Muir Knoll; it was positioned so that after landing, skiers were propelled out onto Lake Mendota. The jump officially opened on January 11, 1920, and a crowd of 3,000 spectators appeared to watch the spectacle. This was the birth of the Badger Ski Club. Old wooden ski jump on Muir Knoll
February 14, 1920 The first ski meet ever held at an American university took place on the newly constructed jump. In addition to UW-Madison students, there were entrants from Chicago, Eau Claire, Stoughton, Mount Horeb, Chippewa Falls, Milwaukee, and the city of Madison. At least 1,000 people showed up to watch. Cartoon from February 1921 edition of the Octopus: "Our suggestion for skiing in a snowless winter"
1927 In the summer of 1927, UW graduate Porter Butts, chemistry professor Harold "Doc" Bradley, 1925 Class President Jack Bergstresser, and Memorial Union Secretary John Dollard took a month-long canoe trip in Quetico Park in Ontario. During this excursion the friends first talked about the idea of a student outing organization.
1928 Porter Butts was named the first director of Memorial Union. Instrumental in the planning and conception of the union as an integrated space for student activities, Butts was a founding member of Hoofers and influential in having the group organized under the auspices of the Union. He served as director until 1968. Porter Butts