Trail Closed As ISU Examines Future of Historic “I” on Red Hill

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Updated: 7/30/2013 8:50 am
 

First the Bengal statue and now the “I” might be joining a growing list of treasures heading for storage or even worse. Idaho State University officials announced this morning that the iconic “I” on Red Hill is posing a safety risk.  According to the release, a committee has been formed to make recommendations on the structure’s future.

The history of the letter on Red Hill predates the Great Depression. You have to go back to 1905 to find a photo without a marking on the hill. The letter “T” first was placed on the hillside in 1916 to symbolize the school’s move from the Academy of Idaho to the Idaho Technical Institute.

In 1926, a giant “4” replaced the “T” as the students voiced their support for becoming a four-year-degree-granting college.

By the 1930s the “I” was in place and it served many purposes during the depression. The school began many traditions with the “I” that were meant to distract and uplift. Freshman would whitewash the “I”. It was reported in The Bengal Newspaper that they even used their toothbrushes to dab paint on the “I” in 1931.

The burning of the “I” was a student favorite all the way up into the 1970s. The campus grew around this icon but now university officials say it is no longer safe. They say erosion has taken a toll on the “I”. The trail below its base has been closed and a committee has been formed to make suggestions for its fate.

A few weeks ago, the ASISU President told KPVI that he hopes to replace the “I” with an interlocking “I-S” on top of the hill. He says this will help set ISU apart from the University of Idaho.          

ISU will now engage the services of an independent Idaho registered professional engineer to further assess the safety concerns, review ISU’s internal reports and make recommendations on repairing or replacing the “I.”

ISU Release: Idaho State University officials have determined the iconic “I” on Red Hill in Pocatello poses a safety risk and a committee comprised of students, faculty, alumni and community members has been formed to make recommendations on the structure’s future.

“As we review the issues identified in the three studies, our goal is to preserve the history of this university and resolve any safety concerns,” said Arthur C. Vailas, ISU President.

A trail on Red Hill located downhill closest to the “I” has been closed and will remain closed until safety issues have been resolved. The east side of this upper trail on Red Hill is cordoned-off and has signs declaring the closed area on its north and south ends.

The ISU Facilities Department completed a study of the Red Hill “I” earlier this year that raised safety concerns about it. That study has been reviewed by James Mahar from the ISU School of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Science and Engineering who also concluded that because of erosion and instability as it currently sits, the “I” poses a potential safety risk.

ISU will now engage the services of an independent Idaho registered professional engineer to further assess the safety concerns, review ISU’s internal reports and make recommendations on repairing or replacing the “I.”

“The newly formed committee will review the information provided and advise President Vailas on how to proceed,” said Kent Tingey, ISU Vice President for Advancement. “We are acquiring the facts now and we will be making recommendations on this historic and well-loved landmark that is dear to the entire community.”

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