All Terps are familiar with the bronze statues of our mascot Testudo that dot the campus, as well as the brown, furry Testudo who entertains the crowds at athletic and other campus events. Then, of course, there’s also the gaily decorated turtles that remain from the university’s 150th anniversary celebration in 2006 sprinkled here and there, including the UMD Archives’ very own “Champions All” here in Hornbake:
Many members of the campus community even know that the real Testudo, the live diamondback terrapin that was used as the model for the original bronze statue, the one that stands in front of McKeldin Library, has been taxidermied and mounted on a board and resides in the University Archives.
But perhaps the most amazing representation of Testudo was the mobile version known as Testudo II.
This crazy creature, constructed in 1965, was the brainchild of the Student Government Association. The Executive Committee was looking for ways to increase school spirit on campus and allocated $3400 from SGA’s annual budget to fund the project. Some members of the campus community initially objected to the cost, deeming the project a waste of money, but student leaders pushed ahead, and Testudo II made his debut at a pep rally and bonfire on December 3, 1965, the night before the annual football game with rival Penn State and the home opener for the men’s basketball team vs. Wake Forest.
He made his first appearance on national television the following day at the football game, when he rode around the track inside Byrd Stadium at halftime.
Testudo II was 15 feet long and approximately 6 feet high, and his shell measured 10 feet across. The firm Art Designer’s, Inc., in Arlington, VA, constructed the terrapin, which was water-proof, using a Triumph TR-3 roadster as the base. They chose this vehicle since it was lower to the ground than a Volkswagon Beetle or a Fiat, the original possibilities, and had a better frame and acceleration.
Following his December 1965 debut, Testudo II continued to appear at local events like Homecoming and even traveled on the road with the Terps, appearing, for example, in the Oyster Bowl parade in Norfolk, VA, in 1968 and the Peach Bowl parade in Atlanta, GA, in 1973.
Unfortunately, we have not been able to determine the fate of this fabulous creation, but we assume he disappeared sometime in the 1970s. If any of our readers know what happened to Testudo II, please let us know at email@example.com, or leave us a comment here on Terrapin Tales.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic to re-create this amazing Testudo? Come on, students in the Clark School of Engineering, we challenge you to make this happen! We bet you could even get some support from Maryland Athletics…
There are many great stories in college and university lore about kidnapping the mascot of a rival school, e.g. the Army mule and the Navy goat or USC’s theft of UCLA’s Victory Bell, among many other tales. Believe or not, our beloved Testudo was not immune from this phenomenon too!
The first Testudo statue was revealed on the afternoon of June 2, 1933, when a 400-pound replica of a Diamondback Terrapin was presented to University President Raymond A. Pearson by Ralph Williams, President of the Student Government Association (SGA). The original memorial, created at the Gorham Manufacturing Company in Providence, Rhode Island, was placed on a brick and stone pedestal, funded by donations from the SGA, outside of Ritchie Coliseum. Major Howard C. Cutler, the architect who designed the Coliseum, finalized plans for the base initially drawn by D.C.-area artist Joseph Himmelheber.
The Testudo-nappings began not long after the dedication. According to a short article from the September 23, 1958, issue of the Diamondback, Testudo was stolen from his perch outside Ritchie Coliseum twelve times in fifteen years, between its unveiling in 1933 and 1948. This blog post explores the more memorable kidnappings of Testudo from his perch outside Ritchie Coliseum, before the statue was filled with cement and relocated outside the football stadium in 1951.
The statue was first stolen on May 28, 1934, on a Monday night, the last day of the semester. At 8 AM the next morning, SGA President Warren S. Tydings and Ralph Williams, former SGA President who presented the memorial to University President Pearson, ordered a search. The thieves left “J.H.U.” painted in green on the statue’s base, hinting that the thieves were from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. University Vice President Harry Clifton “Curley” Byrd called Johns Hopkins’ auditor Henry Iddins, informing him of the theft. Through information obtained from a state policeman, the search party learned that the thieves, “who looked like college boys,” may have stopped at a gas station in Berwyn, where one thief acquired iodine and a bandage for an injured finger. Later in the afternoon, administrators were tipped off by a phone call from a University of Maryland student, informing them the statue was located at a Johns Hopkins fraternity house in the 3100 block of North Calvert Street. Ralph Williams called Baltimore Police requesting a search of the fraternity, to no avail. By the time the UMD search party prepared a trip to Baltimore, the statue had been found in front of a dormitory at Hopkins, surrounded by roughly sixty Hopkins students. The crowd was questioned by Iddins, who then demanded that the students return the statue. “Fun is fun, but this is carrying it too far,” Iddins said, adding that the statue “must have cost several thousand dollars–and is a beautiful piece of work.” University of Maryland authorities echoed similar sentiments, suggesting that the theft “transcended the prank stage.” While Johns Hopkins administrators suggested that the thieves, if caught, would be expelled, Hopkins Dean Edward Berry also said he did not expect the thieves to be identified.
Baltimore Sun – May 30, 1934
Diamondback – June 1, 1934
Testudo was stolen again by Johns Hopkins students early Saturday morning, May 17, 1941. When Maryland students discovered Testudo missing from his perch at the Coliseum, they immediately gave chase to the fleeing Hopkins students. After an unsuccessful pursuit, Maryland students alerted Baltimore Police of “the crime of the century,” who then notified Johns Hopkins officials of the theft. This time, Hopkins administrators found the bronze Terrapin locked up at the Homewood athletic field, where Hopkins students planned to bring the terrapin onto the field during intermission of a lacrosse match between Hopkins and the University of Maryland the next day. Instead, the Hopkins administrators sent Testudo back to the University of Maryland, much to the chagrin of their students. According to one Hopkins student, “about a hundred of us, certain that we’d beat the Marylanders this afternoon, got in autos and trucks and went to College Park last night to do something about that Terrapin.” For better or worse, by the time this gang of Hopkins students arrived, Testudo had already been taken by another group of “about fifty.” Police, searching for the terrapin, stopped the gang of Hopkins students several times, but, without Testudo, they were let go. “When we got back to Homewood,” one student said, Testudo was “on the steps of Levering Hall. So we locked it up and decided we’d pull it on the field this afternoon and give it back to its owners.”
Diamondback – May 20, 1941
Testudo was stolen several times in 1947. In the first instance, Johns Hopkins students captured the terrapin in May before the national championship lacrosse game. Sidewalks on the Johns Hopkins campus were painted by individuals who believed Maryland would beat Hopkins in the upcoming game. In retaliation, Hopkins students traveled to College Park and stole Testudo. As many as 25 Hopkins students were caught, “scalped,” and held hostage by University of Maryland students until Testudo was returned.
Later that same year, Testudo was stolen on Halloween night by University of Maryland students who resided in West Virginia. According to news accounts, on the evening before the theft, a student asked a police officer about the penalty for stealing Testudo. “Don’t know,” the officer replied, “it has never happened to a Maryland student.” In this case, Testudo was not painted or damaged, but temporarily removed and left “camouflaged in the greenhouse shrubbery.”
Only a month later, Testudo was stolen again from his pedestal outside Ritchie Coliseum, this time by students from Loyola College. Maryland students, less than excited by this specific kidnapping of Testudo by Loyola students, cited a lack of an athletic rivalry between the two schools as the reason for their indifference to his disappearance. In this case, Testudo allegedly attended a Loyola pep-rally and spent an evening on “The Block” on East Baltimore Street in downtown Baltimore. He was returned undamaged and without Loyola’s colors painted on him. Loyola students also sent a letter back with Testudo, thanking University President Byrd, for his “generous hospitality” in loaning them the statue and even wrapped Testudo in a blanket for his trek back to College Park.
After the abundance of kidnappings, Testudo was moved from his perch outside of Ritchie Coliseum into storage in the General Services Department on the east side of Route 1 for several years. Upon the completion of the new football stadium at the University of Maryland in 1950, Testudo was brought out of storage, relocated outside of the new stadium, and filled with cement to prevent future thefts. Seeking a more central location for the statue, students requested that it be moved to the front of McKeldin Library, where Testudo has resided safely since 1965.
There’s so much that we could tell you about Testudo that it’s impossible to cram it all into one blog post. We’ll just have to hit the high points and encourage you to visit the University of Maryland Archives to learn more.
How did we ever end up with a diamondback terrapin as our mascot? Our sports teams had had multiple nicknames over the years–Aggies, Farmers, Old Liners, even Ravens, believe it or not–but had not achieved a consistent identity. The members of the Class of 1933 felt strongly that the university needed a mascot, and they approached then-Vice President Harry Clifton Byrd about this matter. The student newspaper was already called The Diamondback, beginning in 1920, and Byrd certainly knew about the beautiful terrapins native to the state of Maryland, having grown up in Crisfield, MD, where these turtles can still be found in the rivers and marshes in the surrounding area. Whatever the factors involved, the class decided to gather the funds to create a bronze statue of a diamondback terrapin, and Byrd arranged to have a large, live specimen brought from his hometown to serve as a model.
This terrapin traveled overnight in a Pullman car on the train to Providence, RI, with SGA President Ralph Williams, where it met up with sculptor Aristide Cianfarani at the Gorham Manufacturing Company where the statue was created. Several months later, Williams traveled again to Rhode Island to bring the terrapin back, still alive, and it participated in the unveiling of its bronze likeness, originally located in front of Ritchie Coliseum. Two days after the dedication, sadly, this terrapin passed away, but it was taxidermied and mounted on a board and is today one of the crown jewels of the University of Maryland Archives.
Originally the statue weighed only about 300 pounds, and its location along well-traveled Route 1 left it vulnerable to capture by rival schools. Testudo took off on many adventures, and you can find more details about one famous incident in 1947 on our story of Testudo page on University of Maryland A to Z. Campus officials moved the statue to the carpenter shop for a time, to put a stop to these shenanigans, but the students insisted that it be brought back out for display. After a brief stop in Byrd Stadium, the original statue came to reside in front of McKeldin Library in 1965, where it remains to this day. The other bronze versions that you see around campus are all copies of this piece.
Our mascot has taken many forms over the years, both physically and graphically. The brothers of Zeta Beta Tau created some of the earliest live versions of Testudo, seen here, and the costume has changed significantly over the years.
The graphic representation of our beloved terrapin has also changed quite dramatically, and you can find some fun examples of this artwork on our Flickr site Testudo & Company.
Hope you have enjoyed learning a bit about the most important T of them all! Fear The Turtle!
This is the 20th post in our series on Terrapin Tales called ABC’s of UMD! Posts will come out twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, throughout the semester. If you want to learn more about campus history, check back weekly to see what we’ve picked to highlight, and you can also visit our encyclopedia University of Maryland A to Z: MAC to Millennium for more UMD facts.
Do you have other ABC’s about campus? Let us know in the comments below!
It’s hard to forget the people we meet in college, and lots of times, these are the people you’ll know for the rest of your life! We’ve picked 20 UMD alumni or groups of students we think would be great roommates and life-long friends. See if you agree.
1. First, there’s Jim Henson- the creative roommate who can always keep you entertained.
Jim Henson created and performed with puppets even before be started at UMD. Shortly before his freshman year in 1954, he created Sam and Friends, a puppet show that was televised on local stations and featured a character named Kermit, later to become the famous Kermit the Frog. Henson graduated from UMD in 1960, with a degree in Home Economics.
2. And Connie Chung- the roommate who always knows what’s going on around campus.
Before she became a journalist and news anchor of national renown, Connie Chung was active in student government and journalism at UMD. On top of that, she was even elected freshman queen in 1966! Chung graduated in 1969 with a degree in journalism.
3. There’s the roommate who always thinks outside the box…
There’s more than one way to drink from the fountain…
4. And Boomer Esiason- the roommate who is always there to drive you to class.
Raining? Class on the other side of campus? Better get a ride! Before he graduated in 1984, star quarterback Boomer Esiason’s truck was a common sight at UMD. “That thing could go wherever it wanted to, where ever Boomer wanted to drive it,” said a former roommate, “and Boomer had a knack for seeing a parking spot where there was nothing but grass and bushes.” Better watch out for DOTS!
5. How about Judith Resnik- the roommate who can help you with your math homework.
Judith Resnik spent several years at UMD as a graduate student, before receiving her Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1977. Her intense-sounding dissertation was titled “Bleaching Kinetics of Visual Pigments.” Afterwards, she became the second woman in space and spent 145 hours in orbit before being tragically killed in the Challenger explosion in 1986.
6. Or a roommate who will always watch your back.
The Women’s Rifle Team was founded at UMD in 1922 and dominated the national scene for nearly twenty years, featuring multiple national champions and an Olympian on the team. We think it’s safe to say they always hit their mark!
7. There’s also William Cole- the roommate who becomes your best friend.
The namesake of historic Cole Field House, William P. Cole was apparently obsessed with sports while he was a Civil Engineering student at the Maryland Agricultural College. According to his senior entry in the 1910 yearbook, he was known to watch baseball “for hours at a time,” not stopping for anything. But Cole was even more devoted to his friends then he was to baseball. After arriving at school, Cole was assigned a room with baseball star and class president Jackson Grason, and “to our knowledge has not left him since.”
8. And Juan Dixon- the roommate who you want on your rec basketball team.
A two-time All-American and the holder of six school records including total points scored, Juan is the man you need on your squad for that intramural championship.
9. Don’t forget food! Everyone needs a roommate who can keep you well fed.
Yes, you’re reading this image correctly- these cadets are eyeing a big smoked ham hanging from the ceiling in this 1902 dorm room photo. And did we mention the stellar room-decorating skills?
10. Could your roommate secretly be Testudo?
Who is the student in the Testudo costume? It could be anyone! But did you ever think it’s strange that you’ve never seen your roommate at any Maryland games?
11. Watch out for Harry Clifton “Curley” Byrd- the roommate who is a total heart-throb.
Here’s what the 1908 yearbook had to say about Byrd: “when ‘Curly’ grins, watch out. Something is sure to break. His paths are strewn with the broken hearts of guileless maidens whom he has ‘loved to death,’ he-siren that he is, and never has our handsome Don Juan been found ‘de trop’ in feminine society.” Need we say anything else?
12. And there’s Tom McMillen- the roommate who has a killer sense of fashion.
Three-time All-American, Academic All-American, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar, Tom McMillen graduated at the top of his class with a degree in chemistry in 1974. During his years at UMD, McMillen was a lot more than a smart-looking coat and tie.
13. Boring day in the dorm? You need Munro Leaf- the roommate who is an awesome story teller.
If you haven’t already read the story of Ferdinand the Bull, you probably should! After Leaf wrote the popular story of the bull who would rather smell flowers than fight, it was published in more than 60 languages and even turned into a Disney film that won an Academy Award in 1938. Leaf was an English major and graduated in 1927.
14.Lost and can’t find your way around campus? Everyone needs a roommate who knows their way around UMD!
It seems like there’s a new building or some kind of construction job every year at UMD. And let’s face it- we all needed help finding our classes freshman year.
15. And let’s not forget Gary Williams- the roommate who has to win everything.
Before this fist-pumping coach was leading the Terps to a national championship and hundreds of wins at home and on the road, Gary Williams was a determined student-athlete who would stop at nothing to win. In his student days at UMD, Gary spent long hours perfecting his skills on the basketball court. His hard work made him team captain in 1967, and he graduated with a school record in field goal percentage. Let’s just hope some of that work effort rubs off on you come finals time…
16. Need some help with tools? Here’s Millard Tydings- the roommate who can help you build things.
For those of us who have had to put their dorm room furniture together or build projects for classes, look no further than Millard Tydings, Class of 1910. The future Maryland Senator majored in Engineering and was a wiz with all things mechanical. If your construction project is going to take a while, you’re also in luck! Tydings was a gifted speaker and could talk about any subject for hours. Don’t say things are ever boring when he’s around.
17.And did we already mention that everyone needs a roommate who likes to eat?
Because food is important when you’re a student, that’s why.
18. But if you’ve been eating TOO well, then there’s Randy White, the roommate who will go to the gym with you
Randy White wasn’t called half man and half monster for nothing. “The Manster” was a fearsome presence on the gridiron, earning All-American status twice and winning the Lombardi Trophy in 1974. The defensive end weighed 248 pounds, could bench-press 430 pounds, and ran the 40 in 4.6 seconds and is definitely the man you would want to spot you on the weight bench.
19. Most importantly though, everyone needs a roommate who can just be themselves, whether they’re just super chill…
20. Or they’re loudest, craziest person you’ve ever met!
Is there someone you think we missed? Leave a comment and let us know!
The most recent issue of TERP magazine includes not only the regular “Ask Anne” column of university history mysteries but also a special feature on some of the most interesting, unusual, and unexpected artifacts from Maryland’s history. The feature, “Pieces of UMD,” highlights several objects, including former Dean of Men Geary Eppley’s football jersey, the cornerstone box from the cadet Barracks, destroyed in the 1912 fire, and the original Testudo. Additional artifacts, such as a bottle of Curley Byrd whiskey and a gas mask carried by a student during the Vietnam War protests of the 1970s appear in the online version of the article. Visit http://terp.umd.edu/pieces-of-umd to see the whole array.
Tell us if this situation sounds familiar. You find yourself walking past the famed Testudo statue in front of McKeldin Library and really want to give his nose a solid rub for good luck. The only problem is that you don’t know how many dirty, germ-infested hands have touched that same exact surface just moments before. Such a scenario could dissuade anyone, even the most loyal of Testudo lovers, from giving the 80-year-old statue a rub for good luck.
The Testudo statue was unveiled in 1933 by an actual diamondback terrapin.
Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank has no problem rubbing the statue’s nose.
You have no need to worry, though, because it turns out that Testudo’s nose is much cleaner than you may think. Copper and its alloys, including bronze, are anti-microbial surfaces, which in short means that the surface kills bacteria, yeasts, and viruses on contact. This discovery is nothing new or ground-breaking. In fact, early human civilizations, dating back to 2000 B.C., used copper as a means to better sterilize their drinking water. Recently though, copper and its alloys have been put to use in public places in an effort to prevent the spread of bacteria and germs transferred on frequently touched surfaces.
So the next time you pass up the coveted opportunity to give Testudo’s nose a rub for good luck, remember that he is killing more bacteria and germs than he is actually spreading. Chances are his nose is much cleaner than a lot of other surfaces we have no problem touching every day. No need to fear the turtle.
April 12th marks the 32nd anniversary of an historic contest between the Maryland Terrapins baseball team and their hometown heroes, the Baltimore Orioles. On a bright, clear, sunny afternoon in College Park, the Terps took on the O’s in an early season exhibition matchup, a rare occurrence especially in this day of multi-million dollar salaries that come with Major League Baseball’s superstar persona. Four thousand-plus fans packed the stands at Shipley Field, and students looked on from their high rise dorm room windows to watch the big leaguers. Testudo even had the temerity to take on the Oriole bird in a mock fight. It would turn out to be a day to remember for all.
(click to enlarge image)
The team the Terps faced that day was not just any Baltimore Orioles squad. Part of the “Glory Years” of Baltimore baseball, they were coached by Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver, and their roster featured Hall of Famers Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken Jr., and Jim Palmer. The previous two seasons, they had just missed making the playoffs, and the following year, in 1983, the Orioles would win their third World Series Championship. Despite the challenge, the Terps felt they could hold their own against their heroes. Head Coach Jack Jackson, in his 22nd season with the Terps, had helped them build a 33-game home winning streak. In addition, Maryland’s offensive firepower the previous season either tied or set single-season school records in 19 categories, including an ACC record for the highest team batting average (.329). The Terps also featured a strong and deep pitching rotation, headlined by Robert Payne with his astonishing 0.84 ERA.
Both coaches had plenty of remarks before the game. “I don’t think our guys will take it that seriously,” admitted Weaver, “It’s just a work-out and a chance to get some swings. You won’t see any of our guys running into fences today.” Terps coach Jack Jackson joked, “If we win, we’ll count it, but if we lose, we’ll say it was just an exhibition and keep our string alive.” Weaver also added, “As long as we get a decent day and some good batting practice, it’s worthwhile.” It turned out the Orioles would get plenty of both.
(click to enlarge)
Payne started the game for the Terps, and the Orioles were slated to pitch two farm team hurlers whom they brought up earlier in the week. Payne struggled against the big league sluggers and was pulled early, but sophomore lefthanded reliever Mike Romanovsky had a most impressive day for the Terps. Romanovsky went four innings, allowing only two hits and a run. At one point, he faced nine straight batters without giving up a hit. It wasn’t enough to hold off the Orioles though; they teed off on the Terps for thirteen hits, five of them home runs. The O’s easily won the matchup by a score of 12-6.
More important than the score of this game were the lessons learned and the memories made, and that was all that mattered in the end. Merely having the chance to play on the same field as the Orioles was more than enough glory for the young Terps, a moment that they would remember for the rest of their lives. After the game, right fielder Steve Johnson tried to put his emotions into words saying, “I have never been this high in my life. I mean we just played the Baltimore Orioles, maybe I’ll come down from it sometime tonight.” Second baseman Bobby Zavarick exclaimed, “This is something I’ll tell my grandchildren about.” The most satisfying feeling, however, may have belonged to Mike Romanovsky, who struck out pinch-hitting specialist Terry Crowley looking at a fastball on the outside corner, “I loved it, I really did. Especially looking. Next time I see him on TV I can say, ‘I got that guy’.”
Ever get tired of drinking the same old Coca-Cola or Pepsi? Wish you could drink an alternative cola while displaying your passionate school spirit at the same time? Well, in 1967, you could! Say hello to Terrapin Cola, distributed by University Food Services starting in 1967.
For 15 cents students could buy a 12-ounce can of Terrapin Cola, featuring their own school mascot Testudo. What could be more exciting than that? Well, apparently a lot of things. For one, it was reported that Terrapin Cola made the university a 125% profit. On top of that, Terrapin Cola tasted horrible, no matter how hard students tried to like it.
In an article published by the Diamondback, which can be read in its entirety here, students reacted negatively to the taste of the controversial new product. Students commented that Terrapin Cola tasted like “RC with garlic added,” that it “doesn’t have any oomph,” and finally, that “it’s very good embalming fluid.” In fact, four out of five students agreed that the product did not taste good and that it would be a great idea if only a decent-tasting cola was in the can. Students also stressed their concern about the price, saying that it would “taste a lot better at 10 cents a can” and that the university is “making a huge profit and keeping it for themselves.”
So exactly how much profit was the university making, and where was this profit going? According to two more Diamondback articles referencing the controversy, there was never really as much profit as was originally reported, considering the costs it takes to put the product into the consumer’s hand. Also, the profit made on Terrapin Cola actually benefited students directly and was not stashed in some secret fund as some students believed. As to quality, it was confirmed that Terrapin Cola, despite its nasty taste, did in fact meet federal and state regulations.
It seems like Terrapin Cola was an honest attempt to give students a new, exciting choice, not to intentionally rip them off. Apparently that plan backfires, though, when you fill the can with something that tastes like battery acid.
Maybe “Terrapin Beer” could have been a more popular alternative…
Happy Diamondback Terrapin Day! In 2010, Maryland Governor O’Malley designated May 13th as a day to recognize the important role that diamondback terrapins have in our environment and as an iconic state symbol.
We celebrate today by bringing you the story of a challenge our beloved university mascot faced 74 years ago. We all know that students at the University of Maryland take great pride in our mascot, but did you know that our administration does as well? In 1939, then-President Harry Clifton Byrd exchanged letters with Reginald Van Trump Truitt, professor of zoology, about who had the larger terrapin: a man named Hubert Applegarth down on the Eastern Shore, or the University of Maryland. President Byrd obviously believed that the University was home to the largest terrapin in the state, but kept the photos that Applegarth had sent and Truitt’s correspondence in his files. It is unclear who was right, but the photographic evidence does suggest (to our clearly unbiased eyes) that our beloved Testudo comes out on top.
The University Archives is honored to serve as the caretaker of the original Testudo of whom President Byrd was so proud and to mark this special day on the state’s calendar.
The original Testudo pulls the cloth off its likeness, Class Day, 1933.
The Real Testudo.
Clearly Mr. Applegarth had no case…right?
Please visit our exhibit, “Testudo Through Time,” on the first and second floors of McKeldin Library for more images of our beloved mascot.