Celebrating 110 years of Student Journalism

A Brief History of the Bell Game

WILLIAM HARVEY ’22 | STAFF WRITER • The Wabash/DePauw rivalry is a battle on the gridiron that dates back to 1890 and is of the oldest rivalries in college football. Having been in numerous newspapers, aired on television and even talked about in Sports Illustrated, this rivalry is one of the highlights of the school year for both schools. Every fall, the two teams duke it out in a battle for bragging rights, school pride, and the beloved Monon Bell. Worth more than any trophy, this 350 pound train bell is the epitome of Wabash Always Fights.

The bell, a donation from the Monon Railroad in 1832, has become the centerpiece of the schools for decades. Having once been a part of a locomotive that went through Crawfordsville and Greencastle, it now sits on display in the Allen Center here at Wabash, where hopefully it will stay for another year. The bell itself is split in two, one half painted a vibrant red and white, while the other half a tenacious black and gold. Contrary to some notions that the colors represent Purdue University or Indiana University, they do in fact show the school colors of Wabash and DePauw.

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Many have heard of the bell heists and intense football games against the two schools, but there is a culture that comes with the bell that many have not heard of. For instance, many DePauw students refer to the men of Wabash as cavemen after a conflict that took place after Wabash lost the game. A brawl ensued that evening in which Wabash men rallied together to display barbaric heroism in returning the bell, further escalating the rivalry.

 

A song created by Rim Ibbotson and DePauw graduates Darel Lindquist, Nancy Ford, and Melissa Goldsmith, it contains a little bit of country music, rock, and Broadway. The song was written to respond to the rivalry and tell where the bell came from. The song is titled “Ballad of the Monon Bell” and features a dynamic duo of guitar and banjo along with a non- partisan opinion, despite being written by DePauw graduates.

As you walk to class or through the Allen Center and peer across the football field, you will see construction beginning on the bleachers that will hold hundreds of enthusiastic fans from both schools. With the game just a few short weeks away, it is important to remember why we come together every year in celebration of such an event. The Bell Game signifies a deep rivalry between two institutions, but it is revered by both schools involved. Much like classes here at Wabash, the game is not going to be easy, but with a system of brotherhood at our disposal, anything can be accomplished. As the song itself says, “… take this symbol of smoke and fire and grit, and give it to the winner, a symbol not to quit.”