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Corn Monument Fan Favorite: History (1951-1960)

The Corn Monument has been a Hawkeye Engineer tradition dating back to 1919.
History of the Corn Monument 1951-1960


1951 Homecoming Game
Iowa vs Michigan: 0 - 21


1954 Homecoming Game
Iowa vs Purdue: 25 - 14


1957 Homecoming Game
Iowa vs Wisconsin: 21 - 7


Photo Credit: Iowa City Press Citizen

1960 Homecoming Game
Iowa vs Purdue: 21 - 14

The monument was a 20ft. diameter globe & rotated 360 degrees. Globe was painted light blue & all international students were encouraged to paint their country & city. By the time the globe was positioned in front of Old Capital it looked like the globe. A light was positioned to shine on it at night. The light on the globe rose in the East & set in the West as it turned.


1952 Homecoming Game
Iowa vs Ohio State: 8 - 0

This monument is reminiscent of rocket designs of the time - i.e. the Viking Rocket Program. However in 1952, Prof. James Van Allen first began to use rockoons, a rocket launched after being lifted via balloon, off Greenland to study radiation levels at high altitudes to see if radiation was trapped by Earth's magnetic field.


1955 Homecoming Game
Iowa vs Purdue: 20 - 20


1958 Homecoming Game
Iowa vs Northwestern: 26 - 20

Both on and off the field the Hawkeyes were successful in 1958.

The Iowa Hawkeye Football Team won the Rose Bowl and was declared the National Champion by the Football Writers Association of American - the only national championship in Iowa football history.

Explorer 1 Satellite successfully launched January 31, 1958 - the United States' response to the two Russian Sputnik Satellites during the Cold War. This US satellite was was carrying a cosmic ray detector that was invented by James Van Allen and this equipment would lead to the discovery of the Van Allen Radiation Belts.

The University Libraries' Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio has the article "Explorer's Legacy" to read a full account of Explorer 1, James Van Allen, and their legacy.


1953 Homecoming Game
Iowa vs Indiana: 19 - 13


1956 Homecoming Game
Iowa vs Michigan: 14 - 17

The 1956 Corn Monument and Homecoming was Olympic themed - with the Monument potentially being symbolic of an Olympic Flame and 1956 Homecoming Button button having Herky dressed in an Olympic Uniform carrying a torch. The game was played on November 3, 1956 and the Summer Olympics was set to start later that month on November 22nd.

It was a historically successful year Iowa Athletes and Alumni. The Hawkeye Football team would win the Rose Bowl, with their only loss all season being the Homecoming game against Michigan. The United States Men's Basketball Team would win the Gold Medal, going 8-0, with two University of Iowa Alumni. Chuck Darling (1949-1952) playing in all 8 games and Carl Cain (1953-1956) seeing action in only 2 games due to back pain that ultimately led to his retirement.


1959 Homecoming Game
Iowa vs Michigan State: 37 - 8

Playing Michigan State in 1961, this monument presumably says "Orbit the Spartans".

1959 in the Space Race had several successful missions: August 2, 1959 - US launched Explorer 6 to obtain the first pictures of Earth from Space. October 4, 1959 - USSR launched Luna 3 to orbit the Moon and photographed the far side of the Moon.