Early Hoofers History: 1920s

1920 – 1929

Badger ski club: wooden slide on Muir Knoll, 1920. #040502as165

Badger ski club: wooden slide on Muir Knoll, 1920. #040502as165

January 11, 1920
Disappointed that their favorite pastime was virtually unheard of in the Midwest, a group of Norwegian exchange students decided to build a ski jump on the UW (Madison) campus. Over winter break, sixteen students built a wooden jump on Muir Knoll; it was positioned so that after landing, skiers were propelled out onto Lake Mendota.

The jump officially opened on January 11, 1920, and a crowd of 3,000 spectators appeared to watch the spectacle. This was the birth of the Badger Ski Club.

February 14, 1920
The first ski meet ever held at an American university took place on the newly constructed jump. In addition to UW (Madison) students, there were entrants from Chicago, Eau Claire, Stoughton, Mount Horeb, Chippewa Falls, Milwaukee, and the city of Madison. At least 1,000 people showed up to watch.

1927
In the summer of 1927, UW graduate Porter Butts, chemistry professor Harold “Doc” Bradley, 1925 Class President John Bergstresser, and Memorial Union Secretary John Dollard took a month-long canoe trip in Quetico Park in Ontario. During this excursion the friends first talked about the idea of a student outing organization.

Porter Butts, circa 1940. #dn03082205

Porter Butts, circa 1940. #dn03082205

1928
Porter Butts was named the first director of Memorial Union. Instrumental in the planning and conception of the union as an integrated space for student activities, Butts was a founding member of Hoofers and influential in having the group organized under the auspices of the Union. He served as its director until 1968.