Purdue University


Purdue gained the nickname “Boilermakers” following a football game played on October 21, 1891 when Purdue defeated nearby Wabash College 44-0. Purdue, being famous for its top-ranked engineering school, had many students who worked during the school year in a forge room, heating and molding metal. This led to a headline in a local paper exclaiming “Burly Boilermakers from Purdue” in reference to their huge win over Wabash College.

Boilermaker Special
During the 1890’s, Purdue University emerged as one of the leaders in railway technology. Purdue did not have a mascot until 1939 when a student proposed to create a mascot that represented Purdue’s railway engineering heritage. In response, the official mascot, the Boilermaker Special, was created: a Victorian Era train built on an automobile chassis which is driven around campus, hauling students and pumping up the fans before sporting events. A smaller version of the Boilermaker Special, called the “X-tra Special” was later created on the chassis of a golf cart. The Purdue Reamer Club is responsible for the care of the Boilermaer Special and X-tra Special. A member of the Purdue Reamer Club polishes the X-tra Special and the Boilermaker Special before every game. The Club was founded in 1923 and is dedicated to fostering the observance of school traditions, supporting all sporting events, and aiding in the development of proper school spirit.

Purdue Pete
Purdue Pete, who is commonly mistaken as the “official” Purdue mascot, got his start in 1940 as an advertising icon for University Bookstore, which he continues to this day. Wearing a papier mache head, Purdue Pete first took the field to cheer on the Boilermakers in 1956. Today, Purdue Pete’s head is crafted in the same aviation technology lab that produced the locomotive body of the X-tra Special.