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Shooting the Rapids:
Student Use of the MHC Waterfront in the 1920s

This cartoon appeared in the Mount Holyoke News on September 24, 1927. Notice the student in the canoe in the upper left, getting ready to "shoot the rapids" of college life. Courtesy MHC Archives.

In the 1920s, the campus waterfront was a well-used social resource. Students often engaged with the water; examples of their activities include canoeing, ice skating, swimming, and using it as the setting for other activites such as May Day. Some students even enjoyed "shooting the rapids" on Stony Brook! With students enjoying many activites that were centered in the outdoors, the lakes provided a perfect location right on the MHC campus.

Many athletic events took place on the waterfront in the 1920s. Some of these activities, such as canoeing, pleased the students with their outdoor setting. Others, such as swimming, did not, and the creation of "the swimming pool fund, which cannot grow too fast to please the college," was one reaction to the choice of Upper Lake as the location for such events (18). Click here to read more about atheletics on the waterfront.

Students could frequently be found on the lakes, both for official school events and for more informal activities. In 1927, areas of Upper Lake and Stony Brook were blocked off to prevent students from going out in canoes with men to relax in locations deemed "perfect parking places" for dates (19). This blockage was met by the perennial MHC student response to restriction: rebellion. Click here to read more about student lakeside activites.

Atlas Home Going With the Flow: Main Title Placing Industry in Eden: 19th Century Shooting the Rapids: 1920s The Tide Has Turned: Modern Era
This page was created by Sandy North '05 in History 283, Fall Semester 2003 -