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Jim Kershner’s This Day in History

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From our archives, 100 years ago

Two University of Idaho students ended up in the hospital after the annual “cane rush” – similar to a capture-the-flag contest – turned into a bone-crushing melee.

The contest, a fad on campuses at the time, pitted freshmen against sophomores. Each class lined up on either side of a cane, 50 feet away, and made a mad rush to grab the cane and wrestle it away from the opposing side. One freshman suffered a broken collarbone in the initial scrum.

The “star gladiator” for the sophomores, a student named Johnson, managed to grab the cane away and was making a “mad sprint from the battle field” when the freshman horde caught up and piled on top of him.

At the five minute mark, time was called and the team with the most hands on the cane – the freshmen – was declared the winner. Johnson, however, remained motionless on the ground and was immediately rushed to the hospital with unspecified injuries.

The Spokane Daily Chronicle called it the “greatest interclass battle the university had ever known.”

Also on this date

1910: The U.S. National Museum, a precursor to the National Museum of Natural History, opened in Washington, D.C.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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