Almost, but not quite, the same patch of ground in the Academic Quad. The first is in the fall of 1911, part of the original tunnel system:

October1, 1911 Tunnel Construction with mud

And the second is much later. Can you guess what would have prompted the installation of a sprinkler system? I’m guessing it was to make sure things were green and pretty for the Economic Summit in scorching hot mid-July 1990. It did no favors for the Italian cypresses, though, which now have perpetually wet feet:

sprinkler system 048

This one has the “T Lavergne” chicken scratch on the back.

Bonus: I’m up at Iowa State today for a meeting and we were treated to a short concert by part of the Iowa State University Cyclone Football “Varsity” Marching Band. They were very good. Apparently ISU’s Homecoming is this weekend. I like their chances against a wobbly University of Texas team.


Sharp-eyed readers might spot a really good looking historian in the audience.

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9 Responses to Digging

  1. marmer01 says:

    I clearly remember sprinklers (and dodging them) in the academic quad in the 1980s. Although perhaps they were placed by Grounds? If it helps, the Chevy/GMC pickup is something between 1973 and 1987. Of course it could still be in use in the late 80s (probably would be.)

  2. I wonder if I have a photo of the inside of that tunnel. That would be along the route to The Founders’ Room, I think. That is Physics in the background, right?

  3. Also, you can see the forms used to make the arches in the arcade. Some are in use, some are leaning against the building.

  4. Keith Cooper says:

    If I recall correctly, thei1990 photo is not of a sprinkler system, but drains. I believe that the cypresses sit above passive drains that try to help with their wet roots, caused by the lawn sprinklers and the general lack of elevation

    • Matt Noall says:

      That makes a bit more sense. Looking at the pipes (I think PVC), the gauge looks a bit large for sprinklers, more like a drain or other non-pressurized system. Unless you want to drown things…

      • mjthannisch says:

        I think that is a drain pipe, looking at the T. But they might be sprinkler pipes as well. Next time I go by Rice, I’ll take a look at the sprinkers and tell you. Large sprinklers do take pipes up to 2″, maybe larger today. It has been a while since I installed sprinkler systems. On the other had, that pipe is way too small to take care of drainage in the quad,so I would say they are sprinkler pipes.

        BTW, with the 2 years of rain from January to June, all of my rosemary plants bit the dust from being to wet, soI can sympathise with the problems with the cypresses.

  5. Keith Cooper says:

    So, in the final configuration, we poured water on the surface, removed it 3 or 4 feet below ground, and they still don’t thrive. Maybe it’s time to consider an alternative plant? Maybe a Savanah Holly, trimmed to be cylindrical?

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