It may seem like Purdue Pete is the mascot of the burly Boilermakers of Purdue but, in fact, the mascot is the Boilermaker Special. Learn about it in this fun exhibit!
The history of the Boilermaker Special from the Purdue Reamer Club Website (neat pictures on that site):
Late in the Spring Semester of 1939, sophomore Izzy Selkowitz wrote a letter to the editor in the Exponent advocating for the construction of a symbolic mascot. The idea ultimately took the form of a locomotive mascot to be mounted on an automobile chassis, and the Reamer Club inaugurated a campaign to raise the necessary funds for building the mascot. After many donations, including a 1940 Studebaker Champion chassis from the President of the Studebaker Corporation in South Bend, the Boilermaker Special spread Purdue Spirit from September 1939 to mid-1953.
Built on a new International Harvester truck chassis in mid-1953, the Boilermaker Special II was the first Special to have a trailer, which was added in 1956. After only 7 years of driving in parades, football games, and many other events, the burdens caused by the trailer forced the Reamers to look towards a new Special.
With the assistance of President Hovde, the Reamers contacted General Motors to help construct the Boilermaker Special III. In September 1960, weighing 9,000 pounds, the Boilermaker Special III was donated to Purdue by GM and served the university proudly for over 30 years.
In the April 1978 issue of the Purdue Alumnus Magazine, the concept of the Boilermaker Xtra Special was brought to life. In April 1979, an electric golf cart was purchased from EZ-Go Golf Cart Company and the construction of the Xtra began. On October 27th, 1979, the Boilermaker Xtra Special IV was presented to the university.
In the fall of 1992, it became evident to the Reamer Club that the Boilermaker Special III was in a state of disrepair, and it would be in the best interest to work on replacing the train, which had been in service for more than 30 years. For nearly 18 years, the Boilermaker Special V traveled to most away football games as well as other Purdue sporting events in and around Indiana. In fact, the Boilermaker Special V was even trailered to Pasadena, California for the 2001 Rose Bowl.
In 1996, the Boilermaker Xtra Special IV was disassembled to make way for the Xtra Special VI. Built on a Club Car golf cart chassis, the Xtra Special VI was dedicated on October 19, 1996. The Boilermaker Xtra Special VI proudly served the university for 21 years, and made countless memories along the way.
On October 7, 2017 the Purdue Reamer Club officially dedicated the Boilermaker Xtra Special VIII. The Xtra Special VIII is built on a donated Club Car Caryall Turf 2. Led by Dan Gilbert, a team of highly dedicated Wabash National employees donated labor, materials, and parts to bring the newest member of the Xtra Special family to life.
The Boilermaker Special
360 images of Boilermaker Special VII
!! Important !! Click on the three-dimensional shape in the upper left-hand corner for a better view !!
Imagination Station produced videos about Boilermaker Special VII
4:00 interview with Zach and Michael, pilots of the Boilermaker Special
A short, 360 video of the Boilermaker Special driving past the camera
Videos from around the Internet
A 1:00 minute video about what a Boilermaker is.
2:00 news story about the Boilermaker Special's
2011 renovation and upgrade.
A 1:00 minute video about 75 years of the
9:00 video featuring Boilermaker Special V being
built right here in Tippecanoe County in 1992
A 13-minute video about the Purdue Reamer Club
and their Boilermaker Special
Imagination Station does not claim any ownership in the Purdue Boilermaker Special® or any related property or symbol, etc. This exhibit is of the Purdue Reamer Club's Boilermaker Specials. The Purdue Reamer Club has given IS permission to display the vehicle for teaching and educational purposes, consistent with IS's mission.
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