Famous Wisconsin Fight Song Was Actually Written for Minnesota
Seeing as the Gophers and Badgers are meeting this weekend in the Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe, did you know the Badger's famous fight song wasn't originally written for Wisconsin?
The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers and the University of Wisconsin Badgers are meeting this weekend in college football just as they have for the last 130 years now! The sports site, Bleacher Report, notes that their rivalry is the longest in Division 1 college football, with the first game happening WAAAAY back on November 15th, 1890.
And while the biggest part of this storied rivalry is Paul Bunyan's Axe itself-- which is keeps a running tally of the score of each game on the handle and is displayed on the campus of the winning school for the next year-- another big part of college football is the famous fight songs both schools proudly play after they score a touchdown.
Here in Minnesota, the Gopher marching band always fires up a stirring version of the 'Minnesota Rouser,' the U of M's fight song, complete with the Ski-U-Mah cheer. The Badgers, on the other hand, play their fight song, 'On Wisconsin.' But did you know that famous Wisconsin song was actually written... for Minnesota?!?
It's true! According to the University of Wisconsin Library, that famous Wisconsin fight song was written by William T. Purdy (who wrote the music) and Carl Beck (who wrote the lyrics) while they were roommates in Chicago in 1908. But Purdy didn't write it for Wisconsin, he was instead writing it about Minnesota-- and trying to win some cash doing it.
Purdy had intended to enter the song in a contest offering a $100 prize for a new University of Minnesota football song.
But, as the story goes, Beck himself had gone to UW and convinced Purdy to NOT give the song to Minnesota, but instead, keep it for Wisconsin. Beck then promptly wrote the familiar lyrics, and the song eventually made its debut at Camp Randall in Madison against the Gophers on November 13, 1909-- and it's been a staple at Wisconsin ever since.
If you listen to the song below, it's not too difficult to envision how those familiar opening lyrics that say 'On Wisconsin, on Wisconsin...' could have actually been 'Minnesota, Minnesota...' instead, right? And while we're on the subject of rivalries, keep scrolling to check out 10 things all Wisconsinites SECRETLY think about Minnesota!
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