"Iron Fence Kept Cows Out, Professors In, At 1872 NU"


"Iron Fence Kept Cows Out, Professors In, At 1872 NU"


Newspaper article about the iron fence that surrounded the university.


“Iron Fence Kept Cows Out, Professors In, At 1872 NU.” The Nebraskan, December 14, 1954. Building and Grounds files, Box 8, “Gates (Old Iron)” Folder, Archives & Special Collections, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska.


December 14, 1954

Original Format

Newspaper article


Looking Back
Iron Fence Kept Cows Out, Professors In, At 1872 NU

What has happened to the University’s iron fenced-in campus?

The original University campus was bounded by 10th, 12th, R and T Streets, and covered about 11 acres. There was only one building in the center of the block which was old University Hall. In the building were all the departments and offices of the professors. This was the entire University in 1872.

About 1880, an iron fence was put around the campus. It was steel rods, six inches in diameter and 10 feet high, and set about six inches apart. There were fancy ornamental gates that opened onto the campus in various places. On these gates were padlocks which were always locked at 10 p.m., closing the campus for the night.

Kept Cows Off

The purpose of the iron fence was to keep neighbor’s cows off everyone else. If a person was on the campus after 10 p.m., he had to climb over the fence, with the exception of a few privileged professors who had keys.

One night a professor went to the campus to work in the laboratory. When he got ready to depart for home, it was after 10 p.m. Because he didn’t have a key, he decided to jump over the fence.

As he was hurdling the high fence he caught his overcoat on one of the fence pickets. There was a loud ripping of material. Thanks to the old iron fence, the professor went home that night wih only part of his overcoat on, the other part hanging on top of the fence.

No Smoking

On the campus there was absolutely “no smoking” anywhere or at anytime. Conspicuous no smoking signs were put up all over the campus. But regardless, there were several professors who smoked cigarettes.

Since there were no manufactured cigarettes then, they had to roll their own. The profs carried a book of cigarette papers and a cotton bag of tobacco around with them.

By Peg Volzke




“"Iron Fence Kept Cows Out, Professors In, At 1872 NU",” Nebraska U, accessed December 14, 2018, http://unlhistory.unl.edu/items/show/543.