The Old Iron Gates: "A Memorial to the Past and a Gateway to the Future"
In 1892, the University of Nebraska installed an iron fence with gates around the edges of campus. The fence was intended to keep cows from wandering on to campus and also a way to manage students entering and leaving . The gates were locked at 10 pm every night, which proved to be quite the inconvenience at times. There is a particularly well-known story about a professor trying to leave campus after 10 that is often associated with the story of the fence. It is told that a professor was staying late to work in his lab and when he tried to go home for the night, the gates had been locked. He then tried to climb over the fence and ended up tearing his jacket in the process (Iron Fence). Not too long after this occurrence, the students and staff of the University arrived one morning to find the fence gone.
It was in March of 1922 that the fence had been removed, though the two gates still remained in place. There was much speculation as to what lead to their removal and no one was sure as to who gave the orders (Last Vestiges). Eventually, most chose to believe the most logical conclusion was because of the difficulties the fence provided for the fire department along with the growing size of the University. With the rapid expansion, more and more of the University was outside of the fence. The fence was stored on Ag Campus, now known as East Campus, for two years. Wyuka chose to purchase the fence and it can still be seen along "O" Street (Gate 'Monuments').
The gates themselves were moved around until 1942 where it was decided to place them near the Union and the Pharmacy College. They stood in those places until June of 1947 when they were both taken down because they were deemed "out of place" by university superintendent L.F. Seaton though 90% of students in an unofficial poll conducted by the student newspaper were in favor of "saving" the gates. Intentions had been for the gates to be stored under the west stadium for future historical reference, but instead they ended up in a scrap pile on Ag Campus (Gate 'Monuments').
The removal and storage of the gates did not please people and seven years after their removal, the Iron Gates Committee was formed to oversee the restoration these beloved monuments.
Editors: Philip Palomaki and Krystalin Stevens, History 189H: Memory, Memorials, and History, Fall 2010