Solidified in history

Morgan Sturm

Plaque commemorates Lafayette-Lehigh rivalry

When walking by Kirby House, students may notice the recent addition to the Quad, an aluminum pole and plaque commemorating the 150th Lafayette-Lehigh rivalry game, which took place at Yankee Stadium last November.

Installed by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), and paid for by the college, the plaque is one of over 2,000 cast aluminum markersthroughout Pennsylvania that detail some of the state’s important historical moments.

In large gold lettering, it cites the Lafayette Lehigh rivalry as college football’s most played rivalry, dating back to 1884 when the first game was played on Lafayette’s campus.

According to Lafayette’s Director of Athletics Bruce McCutcheon, the marker is actually installed at the location of the first game played on Oct. 25, 1884.

The project of getting a historical marker on campus was started more than a year ago by Director of Special Collections and College Archivist at Lafayette, Diane Shaw and recently retired Executive Director of the Schuylkill River Heritage AreaKurt Zwikl.

Zwikl, who attended graduate school at Lehigh, is also the former chair of the PHMC, which approves requests for historical markers.

“I was waiting for an anniversary of the game, and two years ago in the fall of 2013, I submitted a request and research to get a third marker,” said Zwikl, who had previously requested markers for the first documented professional football game and the Penn relays.

The college applied for a historical marker to the PHMC about two years ago, and the request was approved last year in September 2014.According to McCutcheon, the initial intent was to dedicate the plaque at halftime during the 150th rivalry game.

“With so much going on surrounding the 150th game at Yankee Stadium, the decision was made to hold off on purchasing the marker and marker dedication,” McCutcheon wrote in an email.

This past summer, the project was handed off to the Athletics Department, which then went about the business of ordering and having the marker installed, McCutcheon wrote.

The process of installing the commemorative plaque was completed jointly with Lehigh University, which had an identical plaque to be installed on its campus. The athletic department is planning a dedication ceremony to take place during rivalry week in 2016, McCutcheon wrote.

This dedication ceremony will celebrate the rivalry as a historical moment for Pennsylvania and for both schools.

“The Rivalry is part of the fabric of these two great institutions, rich in tradition and steeped in history,” McCutcheon wrote.

While many applications for historical markers are submitted to PHMC, the criteria for approval of state historical markers is extensive. According to the PHMC website, criteria include a clear and organized nomination, documentation and verification of the claimed facts, the event has to have had a significant impact on its times and to have a substantial connection to Pennsylvania.

“We were very pleased that [the PHMC] agreed that this was something of sufficient historic interest that it warranted a marker,” President Alison Byerly said.

The plaque was funded by the college, and according to the Pennsylvania Historical Nomination Form, the price for a marker of the plaque’s size and word-length is approximately $1,400.