Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tarleton Thursdays: Did You Know?

The Cannon

One of our long standing landmarks, the cannon, was given to Tarleton by the Army after World War I. Everyone has probably heard about our football rival NTAC and their stealing of the cannon in 1928, followed in 1929 by the NTAC airplane incident. NTAC, on their way out of town, ditched the cannon in the Bosque River. Professor E.A. "Doc" Blanchard and Tarleton maintenance foreman, Ed Emmett, pulled the cannon out of the river with a tractor. After being restored by Blanchard, it was cemented into the current location, never to be stolen again!

In years past the cannon was fired every Thursday after the ROTC drill. First the flag was lowered, then taps was played, followed by the firing of the cannon. However, this weekly practice was stopped "for a rather interesting and funny reason" according to the November 9, 1954 J-TAC!

The Tarleton Egg-laying Contest was featured in the blog last week, stating that the contests were internationally known and that Tarleton was the only official contest location in the Southwest. The poultry farm was originally located in the vicinity of Bender Hall and the egg-laying hen houses were located nearby. "The firing of the cannon had a bad effect on the daily egg production!" One can imagine that because Tarleton wanted the contest to be a national and international success something would have to be done about the weekly firing of the cannon! And something was done - the cannon was silenced! (J-TAC, November 9, 1954, p.3)

Evidently silencing the cannon helped! "By 1942 the Tarleton Egg-laying contest was the largest in the world, drawing 12 breeds from 17 states. Five months later, the contests drew 1,456 hens from 19 states." (King, Golden Days of Purple & White, p.218)

The poultry farm was moved from the main campus to just west of the West End Cemetery across the street around 1930. Even after the poultry farm was moved, firing of the cannon was not resumed. It has remained a quiet landmark ever since! "The cannon now stands as a symbol of peace gained through sacrifice." (Traditions, 1999, p.24)

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