1900 Season

Andrew O'Dea
Andrew O'Dea
  Andrew R. Anderson
Andrew R. Anderson
 Results | Summary | Photos | W Winners 

Season Results


Season Summary

In October of 1899, the Wisconsin Alumni Magazine was published as an experiment. Volume two, Number one followed a year later.

Unhappy at Harvard, O’Dea returned to UW.

The freshmen eight raced St. John’s Military Academy on a 1½ miles course and won by 8 ½ lengths.


At the IRA’s:

Georgetown entered its first Poughkeepsie Regatta.

Of the IRA’s, Albert H. Barclay of Harper’s Weekly wrote:

The second (sic, sixth) annual intercollegiate regatta at Poughkeepsie on June 30 was an interesting repetition of the first (sic, fifth) regatta of this association. In 1899, Pennsylvania defeated Wisconsin in the university race by one and one-half seconds. This year the Quaker and Badger shells were again (over)lapped at the finish. The Pennsylvanians won another victory, this time by a margin one and four-fifths seconds. In both races Cornell, who prior to 1898 had scored a long series of victories over Pennsylvania, was crowded into third place by the University of Wisconsin. After Cornell, came Columbia and Georgetown.

At the mile flag, Wisconsin was leading Pennsylvania by a narrow margin. At the mile-and-a-half flag, Pennsylvania was leading with Cornell second and Wisconsin third, but there was not 15 feet between the prows of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Half a mile from the finish Pennsylvania got her men together again and raised her stroke for a final spurt. Pennsylvania passed Wisconsin, but in the effort Crowther, Pennsylvania’s No. 2, slipped his slide. The Badgers jumped for the lead. The boats were only a few strokes from the finish. Pennsylvania seemed to be roused by this mishap, and her men made one of these phenomenal recoveries which sometimes only a mishap seems to bring about in a crew that is almost pumped out. In the few strokes of the race that were left, the Pennsylvania shell once more slipped ahead of the Wisconsin boat and crossed the finish line leading by two-thirds of a length. Four lengths astern came Cornell.

Rowing for Wisconsin, the varsity eight were: Albert F. Alexander - Class of 1900 (bow); Lester C. Street - 1901; W. K. Herrick - 1900; S. C. Welsh - 1902; Wm. J. Gibson - 1902; Wm. C. Sutherland - 1900; Andrew R. Anderson (Captain) - 1900; Lynn A. Williams (stroke) - 1900 and Joseph G. Dillon (coxswain) - 1900. Time 19:46.6.

The New York Times account of the varsity eight race read,


The Race in Detail

The start was admirable in every respect. The five crews apparently took the water at the same instant, though Cornell had a shade the best of it. She jumped into the led immediately after the crews settled down from their starting strokes, and Wisconsin took second place, with Pennsylvania third, Georgetown and Columbia battling for the rear.

The Westerners held their second pace by a quarter of a length over Pennsylvania. Cornell had the lead by a short half length, and the race was one to give a spectator palpitations of the heart. And now the Wisconsin crew put a heroic heave into their stroke and shot into the lead when the mile mark was less than 300 yards behind them.

For the first time the yells of the Western men in the train were heard. Pennsylvania spurted after the Wisconsin men like a torpedo boat, and rushed up into second place before Cornell seemed to realize what was going on. But a moment later the Ithaca boys put on a spurt, and there ensued a magnificent fight. But Pennsylvania men were not to be put aside by any one. They had tons of strength to spare, and before the mile and a half was reached they had once again taken the lead by half a length. Cornell was bow and bow with the Westerners, both of them struggling fiercely for second place.


The Westerner Spurt

At this point the crews were all with the exception of the Wisconsin men, rowing 36. The Westerners were letting down momentarily to 32, evidently for the purpose of picking up their second wind. Their object was soon made manifest, for they made a spurt, running the stroke up to 38, and rushed by into first place at a mile and three-quarters, with Pennsylvania second by less than half a length and Cornell third, with a length between them and the Philadelphians.

Again the splendid crew from the Old Pennsylvania met the challenge of the fine cew from the Western university. She rushed her stroke up to thirty-eight, and at the two-mile mark she was once more in the lead by a short half length over Wisconsin, now pulling thirty-six.

Once more this heart-breaking race became a desperate struggle, in which only the most amazing endurance could possibly win. Slowly but surely the Ithacans crept up, and at the two mile and a half mark they shoved the prow of their shell a quarter length ahead of that of the Wisconsin men, and thus taken second place. But Pennsy kept the lead by a length over Wisconsin. Cornell pulled her bow abreast of that of Wisconsin, and Pennsy maintained a short lead of half a length at 2 ¾ miles.

The crew were now down on the lane of yachts and steamboats, and they felt the stimulus of the last reach of the race. It began to be apparent to every one who knew anything about rowing that only a miraculous burst of speed on the part of the Wisconsin crew could beat the Pennsylvania crew.

As the races passed the three-mile mark, Pennsylvania had a length lead over Wisconsin, and Cornell was nearly a length further astern. Then it happened. The steamboat rolled in, causing Pennsy’s No. 3 to catch a crab which lost him his slide. The Penn shell in an instant dropped back into second place, and almost to a position abreast of the third crew, Cornell. But with superb skill No. 3 recovered his oar and his slide and fell into the swing again. And before the three-and-one-half-mile mark was reached, the Pennsylvania boat was back in the lead. Wisconsin had to be content with second place.

The crews passed the three and one-half mile mark in the following order, and with the strokes given: Pennsylvania, first, 36; Wisconsin, second, 36; Cornell, third, 38; Columbia, fourth, and Georgetown fifth, both rowing 36. At this point the Cornell crew ran into a lane of the swells still rolling from the passage of the Saugerties and her No. 7 caught a crab and interfered with the stroke of the man ahead of him in such a way that the whole boat seemed to be going to pieces.

This accident evidently took the heart out of the pupils of (Charles) Courtney (Cornell’s to-be-famous crew coach) and they pulled wearily thence to the end of the race. They fell rapidly back, their third position being fully three lengths behind Wisconsin, which was less than two lengths behind Pennsy.

Columbia was now coming up in such a style that she threatened to pass Cornell in the short distance left before the finish, and that fact seemed to dawn on the Cornell crew in time to keep them from driving Courtney to suicide. Down toward the finish line the five crews drove, Pennsy tearing the water up with thirty-eight strokes a minute, a desperate spurt to keep Wisconsin from passing her, the Westerners were doing thirty-six and all other crews the same.

The strength of the Pennsylvania (19:44) boat was immense, and she crossed the line a winner by three-quarters of a length over Wisconsin (19:46.6), while Cornell (20.04.2) was three lengths astern of the Westerners.

Penn was the winner of the university boat race to-night after one of the most magnificent struggles ever witnessed on any course. Pennsylvania was not in the lead at the start. She was not in the lead after three and three-quarter miles had been rowed. But she was in the lead at intervals in the race and she was in it at the finish in spite of a mishap which would have thrown a less brave and clever crew out of the race entirely. Her No. 3 man caught a crab which threw water high into the air, and the oar forced him back so far that his slide went off its tracks. In spite of this, he recovered himself and regained the stroke, and then he and the rest of the crew, called upon by the gallant little coxswain, who would not give up, made a spurt of tremendous power, and dashing their shell trough the water like an express train, they recovered all the distance they had lost and went to the front to stay there till the race was ended. And when it ended not a man in the boat seemed entirely used up.

It was a triumph of strength and watermanship against fine finish of form. To the experts it seemed to indicate that (Penn coach) Ellis Ward’s belief in the superior efficacy of leg drive over the other elements of a racing stroke had almost been substantiated.

The second cause of intense interest in the race was the magnificent struggle of Wisconsin for victory. She finished second, but her fight for first place was one that made a race of the contest through every quarter mile from the start to finish. The splendid work of the Western men made it a heartbreaking contest, one that made it impossible for the breathless college men in the observation train to pour out the usual flow of cheers that accompanies boat races.

There were periods when it seemed as if the spectators were actually holding their breath. For lengths at a time the shouts of the coxswains to their men were the only cries that rang across the waters. Wisconsin’s rowing was deficient in perfection of form but the men had no end of strength. They ripped their oars through the water all the way down the four miles and were able to keep up the killing work for double the distance. In the last stretch they rowed with snap power, and a superhuman determination. Only a greater strength than their own could possibly defeat them, and that strength was only to be found in the Pennsylvania boat.

In another account read,

The next year (after the 1899 “Berry Crate” race) the Wisconsin crew, thirsting for revenge, went back to the Hudson, and another day of unsurpassed thrills was furnished the throngs of spectators.

Again Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were the pick of the field; mile after mile the crews pulled, with the Phildelphians holding the lead by a scant few feet, while crowds on the observation train were frozen into silence by the tensity of the water battle.

A young woman on one of the cars fained, toppled over the front railing, and was swaying on the edge of the car, ready to roll beneath the wheels, when she was pulled back.

In another car a young man, carrying a Wisconsin pennant, collapsed completely, and to the frightened onlookers it appeared that he had died. He was taken to a hospital, where he spent hours of unconsciousness but eventually recovered and returned to Wisconsin with his father.

Pennsylvania won the race again by less than a half length, but the defeat was not the only bitter potion in store for the weary Wisconsin boys. As they stopped at the Pennsylvania float (pier and boathouse) to empty their shell, the victorious crew willingly aided them – and each Pennsylvania athlete then was wearing upon his head a strawberry box!

The Badger Frosh, in their first visit to the Poughkeepsie Regatta and in Wisconsin’s only third year of attending, won their 2 mile race; the Penn Frosh, second, were three lengths behind, followed by Cornell and Columbia. Freshman time: 9:54.4. The New York Times described the race:

Wisconsin’s freshman pulled at a strong 36 strokes after settling out of the start, in front, and Pennsylvania and Columbia were making brilliant efforts for second place. After all settled to an easy stroke, Wisconsin was a length in the lead of Cornell and a quarter of a length ahead of Pennsylvania.

At the half mile Wisconsin and Cornell were pulling thirty-six strokes to the minute, Columbia pulling thirty-five and Penn thirty-six. Cornell and Columbia were side by side at this time and this was the only time that Columbia was in the race. Wisconsin had a three-quarters of a length lead on Pennsylvania, and in short time the Badgers put on another spurt and pulled out of bunch entirely. They were never headed after leaving the half-mile mark. Cornell came up with Pennsylvania, and Columbia crept along a bad fourth.

At the Pennsylvania boat house the young Quakers put more power in their boat and again secured a good second position. Cornell was now in third place and Columbia was losing ground. Coming toward the big bridge, the Wisconsin oarsmen had a lead of a full length and open water was beginning to show between the Wisconsin and the Pennsylvania and the Cornell boats. Columbia was over a length behind Cornell.

It was very apparent after passing the mile mark that the Wisconsin junior crew would have an easy time in capturing first place, but there was a spirited contest on between Cornell and Pennsylvania for second position. At the mile and a half mark, the Wisconsin youngsters had gained a lead of a half length of open water, and Cornell and Pennsylvania were still fighting for second place, Cornell having a slight lead over Pennsylvania’s crew of juniors. The Western oarsmen were gaining at every stroke, and, pulling thirty-two to the minute, they had no trouble in holding their lead of a length and a half which they had acquired at this time. Nearing the finish the Wisconsin crew again spurted and increased their lead to over two lengths while Pennsylvania’s shell lapped that of the Ithacans.

Wisconsin crossed the finish line a victor by two and a half lengths and Pennsylvania, after a magnificent spurt, managed to forge to second place, their shell being but a fifth of a length ahead of Cornell. Columbia was fourth by several lengths of open water.

In a March 30, 1967 letter to the Wisconsin Crew Corporation, D. Hayes Murphy, Chairman, The Wiremold Company, Hartford Connecticut, wrote:

As Commodore of the 1900 Wisconsin Crew, it gives me great pleasure to congratulate you heartily upon having a Varsity Crew that meets the standards of the participants in the Royal English Henley Regatta, and you have my best wishes for outstanding success in the coming event.

I am making that wish with the great confidence, based on my experience in 1900 when I was a senior, burdened with the extra curricular responsibility of raising the money to send the Varsity Crew to Poughkeepsie. It looked as though I would make it all right, when the Athletic Board told me that we had such an outstanding Freshman Crew it had been decided to send them to the Poughkeepsie Regatta too and this meant that a redoubling of my efforts would be needed to include them in the party.

I told them it could be done if it were not for the three law examinations coming up on which it would be necessary for me to spend some time studying in order to be sure of passing the final exams and that I could either concern myself with fund-raising - or the law exams - but not both. It was their decision to make. They went to the Faculty and, in due time, I was called to Dean Birge’s office for a conference. It was short! He said they had decided that it was more important to send the Freshman Crew to Poughkeepsie than for me to pass my law exams and I could have y diploma on the basis of my class standings.

So…I went to work and raised the money for the Freshman Crew to go to Poughkeepsie too, and they won the race by SIX lengths! The Varsity Crew came in second in a field of five. You can depend upon history repeating itself and I think you can all go to Henley with full confidence of returning to a hearty welcome from all Wisconsin.

My contribution to the cause is enclosed with pleasure and confidence!


(Signed) D. Hayes Murphy


  1900 UW Frosh Class Age Height Weight
Bow H. W. Werner ‘03 21 5’9” 150
2 Wm. K. Murphy ‘03 19 6’0” 139
3 Dwight C. Trevarthen ‘03 18 5’8” 156
4 Robert G. Stevenson ‘03 22 5’10” 168
5 C. Harold Gaffin ‘03 20 6’0” 166
6 Lester H. Levisee ‘03 20 5’11” 161
7 J. A. Armstrong ‘03 21 5’9” 152
Stroke A. J. Quigley ‘03 23 5’8” 142
Cox T. F. Sawyer ‘03 20 5’9” 103
      Average 5’10” 154


The race course on the Hudson River near Poughkeepsie, NY was a four mile race for the varsity and a two-mile race for the freshmen (the second varsity race did not begin until 1914 and was itself a two-mile race from 1914 through 1925, after which it became a 3 mile race. The finish line remained the same for all races and the start was shifted up or down river, depending on the event. The Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge, completed in 1888, served as roughly the one-mile-to-the-finish marker for all races. The bridge, a Victorian-era lattice of steel, stands 200 feet above the water and served as a primary link from New England to the Midwest. About 90 miles north of New York City, the bridge was at one time the first bridge across the Hudson River south of Albany. Including the approach system, the bridge was once the longest in the world at 6,768 feet. On May 8, 1974, a spectacular fire – caused when the sparks of a passing train ignited the oil-soaked railroad ties - broke out and eventually resulted in the bridge’s permanent closure.

When the Badger frosh raced and won their event in 1900, the signaling system at the Poughkeepsie Regatta was from the railroad bridge, as follows (as described in several Official Programs of later years):



By arrangement with Pain’s Manhattan Beach Fireworks Company, of No. 18 Park Place, New York, the following signals will be given from a point near the Finish Line:

The start of each race will be indicated by one bomb.

A postponement of the regatta will be indicated by ten bombs.

The leading crew at each mile point, including the finish, will be indicated by bombs, the number of which will correspond with the course (lane) number of the crew, as stated on pages 3, 5 and 7 of this program.

The order of the crews at the finish will be indicated by their University colors suspended from the middle span of the (railroad) Bridge, the upper colors indicating the winner.

The order and official times of the crews at the finish of each race will be announced by megaphone from the operating car in the middle of the observation train.



Red Gym and V8

Red Gym and V8


1900 Trophy for Freshan 8
Badger Yearbook of 1902

1900 Trophy for Freshamn 8



The Elms, Wisco's rooming house for many Poughkeepsie regattas

The Elms


Wisco Rowing Tank Source: UW Archives

Wisco Rowing Tank


Wisco Crew House

Don Shutt post card collection
Wisco Crew House

Brad Taylor post card collection
Wisco Crew House


Wisco rooms at IRA for a few of the early Poughkeepsie Regatta years
Cannon House Postcard

Wisco rooms at IRA



Francis. H. Crosby
Charles Harold Gaffin
William J. Gibson
William K. Herrick
Lynn A. Williams


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