History

Hoofers has a long and storied history that has helped us become one of the oldest and largest organizations on campus. Below you will find a brief history of Hoofers, or please browse through these links for more information and pictures of Hoofers through the Ages.

 

Brief Hoofer History:

The University of Wisconsin-Madison, Hoofers outdoor recreation program, supported by the Wisconsin Union Outdoor Programs Office, has a long and rich history.

In 1919 a wooden ski jump was constructed on UW-Madison's Muir Knoll with the first ski meet having more than 1,000 in attendance.

In the summer of 1927 Wisconsin Union Director Porter Butts, Dr. Harold Bradley (chair of the Union Building Committee), John Bergstresser and John Dollard took a month-long canoe trip in the Quetico Park in Canada. Over the campfire the discussion focused on how natural it would be to offer an outing program for students sponsored by the Union. In 1928 Porter Butts was named the first director of the Memorial Union.

In 1931 the first announcement about forming an organized outing program as part of the Union program was posted. It said "Please sign up if you are interested." A group of six (three students and three non-students) got together to form an outing club, including Dr. Bradley and Union Director Porter Butts.

"Wisconsin Hoofers" was chosen as the name of the new organization and was patterned after the Dartmouth Outing Club. Sally Owen Marshall, one of the original group of three students, designed the Hoofer emblem—a black horseshoe superimposed on a red W—signifying Hoofers go places under their own power (they "hoof it") and the symbol of good luck. Sally was also the first woman to jump off of the ski jump.

The first home of Hoofers was in the basement of the old University of Wisconsin President's house at the corner of Langdon Street and Park Street (where the Memorial Union is now located).

Twenty sets of skis (although they were essentially nothing more than planks tied to one's shoes with a leather strap) and poles were ordered through the Dartmouth Outing Club.

Weekly trips included hiking, climbing, archery, and camping, along with a semi-annual walk around Lake Mendota (25 miles). Devil's Lake was a center of activity with Hoofers using the Kirkland Lodge at the south end.

A new ski jump was erected on Muir Knoll in 1932 and was considered one of the best small jumps in the country. The first ski tournament in 1933 had an estimated crowd of over 4,000.

Over the years known Hoofer Olympians have included Paul Bietila (ski jumping), Walter Bietila (ski jumping, also Olympic coach and on Olympic Committee), Lloyd Ellingson (ski jumping), and Peter Barrett (sailing).

An exciting concrete toboggan slide from Observatory Hill shooting out onto Lake Mendota was built in 1933.

In 1939 Hoofers moved into the lower level of the new Wisconsin Union Theater, which is still the home of Hoofers.

A variety of Hoofer interests and subsequent clubs were formed over the years (and many later dissolved) including the Hoofer Ski Club, Archery Club, Sailing Club, Hunt Club, Riding Club, Mountaineering Club, Canoe Club, Gliding Club, SCUBA Club, and Ballooning Club

Today Hoofers involves the Hoofer Mountaineering Club, Hoofer Outing Club, Hoofer Riding Club, Hoofer Ski and Snowboard Club, Hoofer Sailing Club, and the Hoofer SCUBA Club.Hoofers sponsors five collegiate competitive teams including the UW Alpine Team, UW Nordic Team, UW Freestyle Team, UW Riding Team, and UW Sailing Team. There are two active Hoofer Youth Programs (Riding, Sailing) involving over 500 youth each year.