One of the small treasures in George Miner’s things is a tidy little notebook he used for Engineering 250, Plane Surveying, in the fall of 1947. One page is of particular interest. On a warm and cloudy October 8th, he and his lab partners surveyed the northeastern edge of campus:
It took a moment to orient myself–the “A.B.” at far left is Lovett Hall, off to the right is Entrance 1–and then I started learning. I had not known that the road from the main entrance to the Power House was made of shell. More tantalizing were the dirt piles just south of that road. What could this possibly be about? The first thing I found was an aerial shot of just this area from 1946. You can see the parallel lines of crepe myrtles (I didn’t know about those either) that extend along the side of the parking lot where Duncan Hall is today to the shell road–but no dirt piles:
A bit of inspiration sent me to the Fondren construction files and this image from December 2, 1947, just a couple months after the map was drawn. There are the piles and even more behind the Chemistry Building to boot:
At first I thought the crepe myrtles were gone, but they’re still there. It’s winter so they’ve shed their leaves but if you zoom in you can see what look like two dotted lines. Those are their shadows. I’m guessing the dirt piles must be construction related, maybe from digging the basement of Fondren.