M Emblem

AddressMount Zion
QuadGolden, 1939 (1965)
SectionS33, T3S, R70W
Elevationc. 6200
Source"Oredigger," Sept. 29, 1949.
Initialdate1997-04-23 00:00:00-06
HistoryWest of the Colorado School of Mines, on the east face of Mount Zion, is the emblem "M" for the name of the school. The "M" was designed by Joe O'Byrne in 1905 in such a manner as to be distrortion free from all angles. Doing that was the basis of a thesis in Descriptive Geometry. The outline was staked out by W.S. Brown, class of 1910. On May 16, 1908, at 7:30 A.M., virtually the entire student body and faculty started their climb of Mount Zion to create the "M". Because of a lack of roads the necessary materials such as cement, water, and white wash were transported up by burros. By mid-afternoon, the "M" was a reality. It remained unlighted on a permanent basis until 1932, but in 1931 the school was able to borrow 350 light bulbs from Colorado Central Power Company, a DC generator and wire from the Physics Department, and a tractor for power from the State Industrial School to light the "M" for two nights during home coming weekend. In 1932, at a cost of $12,000, the letter was provided with permanent lighting. At the time, at 104 feet by 107 feet, it became the world's largest electrically lighted letter. The power to the 400 bulbs was transmitted from Brooks Field via a 4600 foot, 2300 volt line that was carried on 17 poles. In 1948 a timer was added making the lighting of the emblem automatic. The rocks making up the emblem are white washed every fall by the incoming freshmen class and again every spring by the outgoing senior class. Walking west on 15th Street affords a good view of the emblem.