Friday, March 9, 2012

Duckboards

The Chinook-like wind that swooped in yesterday briefly made the Green "mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful," as e e cummings might say. But we are lucky: the Green now drains pretty quickly. It was not always so. For most of Dartmouth's history mud season turned the Green into a sloppy mess. To deal with the problem, every March from the 1880s until the 1950s, the College would lay down "duckboards" along the pathways on the Green. The narrow boardwalks kept students relatively dry and mud free on their way to class, but, if a particularly squirrelly student stomped hard, he could shoot water through the slats and soak anyone nearby. For a time there was even a dance, "The Duckboard Drag," held each March to celebrate the coming of Spring.

In the 1950s, the College installed a drainage system and the duckboards were retired, or should I say cremated, for they fueled at least one Dartmouth Night bonfire.

To see more images, ask for the Photofile: Campus--Duckboards.

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