The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M fans react after The Aggies win the NCAA Bryan-College Station Super Regional at Olsen Field on Sunday, June 9, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
The mad dash to Omaha
June 21, 2024
Some international students at Texas A&M have been struggling to pick up groceries because of limited transportation options from campus to H-E-B and Walmart on Texas Avenue.
Former A&M employee sentenced to 5 years for hiding restroom camera
The employee, who worked for Transportation Services, was sentenced Friday
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • June 24, 2024
Graduate G Tyrece Radford (23) shoots the ball during Texas A&Ms game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena.(Ishka Samant/The Battalion)
Projected Top 5 picks of the 2024 NBA Draft
Roman Arteaga, Sports Writer • June 25, 2024

In the 2024 NBA draft, there is an incredible amount of talent available for teams to pick. We have players from college basketball, G-League...

Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) reacts in the dugout after Texas A&M’s game against Tennessee at the NCAA Men’s College World Series finals at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 24, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
United they fall
June 24, 2024
Texas A&M pitcher Kaiden Wilson (30) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Tennessee at the NCAA Men’s College World Series finals at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Winner-take-all
June 23, 2024
Eats & Beats at Lake Walk features live music and food trucks for the perfect outdoor concert.
Enjoying the Destination
Cara Hudson, Maroon Life Writer • June 17, 2024

For the history buffs, there’s a story to why Bryan and College Station are so closely intertwined. In 1871 when the Texas Legislature approved...

Chris Hemsworth as Dementus in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.
Review: ‘Furiosa’ is a must-see
Justin Chen June 4, 2024

My jaw dropped open in 2016. Rarely in life does that happen, but the viewing experience of “Mad Max: Fury Road" was something to behold....

Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) reacts in the dugout after Texas A&M’s game against Tennessee at the NCAA Men’s College World Series finals at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 24, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
United they fall
June 24, 2024
Texas A&M pitcher Kaiden Wilson (30) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Tennessee at the NCAA Men’s College World Series finals at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Winner-take-all
June 23, 2024

Bonfire played major role in 90 of A&M’s 125 years

When the first Aggie Bonfire burned in 1909, it was a haphazardly built pile of wood and trash. Ninety years later, when the stack collapsed, killing 11 students, one former student and injuring 27, it had evolved into a 55-feet-high, layered structure of cut logs requiring tens of thousands of manhours to build.
Originally built off campus after a victory over the University of Texas (UT), the event became a Thanksgiving staple and came to symbolize Aggies’ “burning desire” to beat archrival UT. The event moved to campus in the early 1920s, and the stacks grew bigger and bigger. In 1946, students began using a “center pole” to build a taller stack. The tallest Bonfire ever constructed was in 1969, when it stood 109-feet, 10-inches high. Since 1970, Bonfire was restricted to a height of 55 feet and a width of 45 feet.
Bonfire moved from O. R. Simpson Drill Field in 1955 to the front of the Memorial Student Center, where it remained for 37 years. In 1992 it moved to its most recent location, at the intersection of University Drive and Texas Avenue on the polo fields.
The construction of Bonfire required months of preparation beginning with “cut,” when students would go to a forest site designated to be cleared, and they cut the wood using axes.
While some equipment and cranes were used during “stack,” most of the work was done with manpower. Built like a layered cake, each log was lifted with pulleys and tied vertically in place with wire. The event was student led, with the design and construction supervised by student leaders known as “red pots.” The stack collapsed in 1994, but no one was injured and Bonfire was rebuilt within a week with the help of former students and burned on schedule.
But Bonfire, and Texas A&M, would never be the same after 2:42 a.m. Nov. 18, 1999, when the stack collapsed. A special commission, tasked with investigating the cause of the collapse, concluded that structural design flaws were the result of a “tunnel vision” approach by the University that ignored safety concerns and allowed untrained students to build a complex structure with no supervision.
Following the commission’s report, A&M President Dr. Ray Bowen announced that Bonfire would be postponed until 2002 and imposed several safety restrictions, including the elimination of “cut” and oversight by professional engineers.
“This restructuring must produce a well-managed student project, which is forever safe, which projects a positive image for the University and which respects the academic demands on our students,” Bowen said.
The Bonfire Steering Committee, a group of students and staff charged with designing a new Bonfire within Bowen’s parameters, is expected to complete its work next spring.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *