Wisconsin Mining Trades School
Travel and E-Travel
I visited the Platteville campus in 2012 to collect photocopies from the Miner, the Wisconsin Mining School yearbook and to photograph Rountree Hall. Thomas B. Lundeen’s Jubilee! A History of the College of Engineering: the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, 1908-1983 is part of the University of Wisconsin’s digital collection.
Wisconsin Mining Trades School was founded in the lead ore mining region of southwestern Wisconsin in 1908. Its purpose was to train youth to become practical miners. The initial two-year program included a required summer of work in the mines. Coursework included a year of advanced mathematics, chemistry, physics, geology, mineralogy, and mechanical drawing—in addition to practical courses in surveying and machinery—as well as the mining practicum.
In 1917 the name was changed to Wisconsin Mining School, and a third year was added to the curriculum. The emphasis shifted more to engineering, as a large percentage of graduates were entering professions other than mining.
In 1939 the school took the name Wisconsin Institute of Technology, ultimately becoming a four-year school that prepared graduates for a wider range of occupations. In 1959 it was merged with Platteville Normal to become the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
The 1920 Miner shows a student body of 77—18 Seniors, 23 Juniors, 23 Freshmen, and 13 special students. There was one social fraternity, Sigma Delta Phi. Otherwise, the major student organization was the Engineering Club, which organized many of the social events for the school, the major event being the yearly Explosion, a fundraising carnival of music, dance, and games of chance, attracting persons from a fifty-mile radius.
Students published a newspaper, The Geode, and the yearbook, The Miner.
Like many technical schools, Mines was de facto male. As such its rivalry with neighboring Platteville Normal, which boasted a large co-ed presence, was to be expected. In 1932 Mines gained two female students.
(Above) 1932 staff of the Geode (Courtesy of University of Wisconsin-Platteville: Southwest Wisconsin Room)
Bricks and Mortar
Wisconsin Mines inherited Rountree Hall, the previous home of Platteville Normal School. On the corner of Elm and Main, Rountree Hall dated from 1853, when it had been built to house Platteville Academy. In his history of the school, Thomas Lundeen noted that some students who could not afford the regular room and board costs were allowed to sleep and cook in the basement or on the third floor of the building
Having survived three schools, Rountree Hall was placed on the Historical Register in 1974.
Team name: Red Men or Red Machine
Colors: Red and White
Wisconsin Mines fielded teams in football, basketball, baseball, golf, and track. Beginning in 1932 teams were members of four different conference configurations—Tri-State, Badger State, Badger-Illini and Badger-Gopher. Even though basketball teams were generally unsuccessful, they recorded conference championships in 1939 and 1940.
Lundeen notes that the 1908-09 catalog forbade the playing of football, but Mines played intercollegiate football until the merger. The team won conference championships in 1939, 1940, 1942 and 1957.
(Above) Without its distinctive bell tower, Rountree Hall survives today as an apartment complex.