UNIVERSITY OF REDLANDS MAKES ANNUAL TREK TO "MOUNT R"
University of Redlands students, staff, alumni and members of the Redlands community will make the annual trek up to "Mount R" Saturday, March 24, to assist in the clearing away of debris and brush on the collegiate letter "R."
The Redlands "R" is believed to be one of the largest collegiate letters in the nation, standing approximately 500 feet tall and 350 feet wide. The R was engineered in 1913, only six years after Redlands was founded, when a group of freshmen (class of 1916) hiked up the mountain to build their dream-a huge "R" to announce to the entire valley the pride they felt in their school.
The freshmen were apparently having lunch on the front lawn of the Administration Building when someone came up with the idea of building a letter on the side of a nearby mountain. The mountain chosen, Mount Harrison, was later found to be inaccessible-residents near the mountain did not like the idea of college students tramping regularly through the area. So another mountain was selected, although it was a bit farther away from the campus. The freshman gathered a group together, and over the course of three different three-day trips managed to put a recognizable "R" on the side of the mountain. During the following year, another group of freshmen were sent up the mountain led by brave sophomores (the freshmen of the original party) to burn the entire "R" area. The burning of the brush completed the "R."
Continuing in the spirit of the class of 1916, a requirement for all entering freshmen was a trip to the "R" for an annual cleanup. The university's yearbook "La Letra" was even named in honor of the "R" in Spanish for "the letter."
During the 1960s, the "R" was not cared for since many people believed the annual clearing of the brush created soil erosion. As the years went by, the "R" became increasingly difficult to see on the mountainside due to overgrown brush. The outline was blurred further in the 1970s when a fire swept over the mountain.
In 1984, freshman Greg Horn became interested in the tradition of the "R" and decided to bring the symbol back to its original state. He requested permission from the U.S. Forest Service to make trips up the mountain once more and restore the "R." After a long letter-writing campaign, Horn was granted a permit to work on the "R" located on Forest Service land. He led a group of 12 faculty, students and administrators up the mountain and began the work of redefining the outlines and clearing the knee-high brush inside the letter. Twenty-one trips later and approaching graduation, Horn accomplished his goal-he brought the "R" back to university life. Once again clearly visible, cleaning crews would continue Horn's work with annual trips to the mountain to keep the "R" in good condition. Clean-up crews work under strict regulations from the U.S. Forest Service that protect the nearby vegetation and, of course, fires no longer are allowed.
As part of the effort to keep the "R" beautiful, the Alumni Association is sponsoring the March 24 cleanup. The workday begins at 7 a.m. with the group meeting for doughnuts at
Memorial Chapel. The group will carpool to the mountain base and begin the one-hour hike up to the "R." After clearing away the debris and brush, the group will head down the mountain and celebrate their return with pizza. All are invited to join the group, although participants must be aware that it is a steep climb to the letter.
For more information, call the university's Office of Alumni Relations at (909) 335-4011.