Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Ghost Cow of Woodburn Hall

West Virginia University was founded in 1867 - four years after West Virginia became a state after splitting off from Virginia during the Civil War. Part of the first curriculum were studies in agriculture and livestock, and that is where this story begins. . .

The second building to be built on the WVU campus was the one above - Woodburn Hall. The first was Martin Hall, which stands to it's left in the above picture. Woodburn Hall has several stories - and a clock tower that is at the center of one of them.

In the early years of the school, some of the students from the agriculture department decided to pull a prank on the campus, which has lived on (a la FDR) in infamy -

As the story goes, some of the students from the agriculture department stole a cow from the WVU farm, and led the poor thing up into the top of the Woodburn Hall bell tower. Now it is a well-known fact that cows will climb stairs, but will not climb back down them.

Once the cow was in the bell tower, it proceeded to moo and beller like there was no tomorrow - and caused no end of bemusement to the campus's students, staff, and faculty. Not knowing what to do, they spent several hours trying to remove the unfortunate cow from the bell tower without success.

Finally, the decision was made to kill the poor animal, and it's carcass was divided up and brought down out of the bell tower in this manner.

It is unknown what became of the students who pulled this horrible prank - or what was done with the cow after its demise in the bell tower. However, many people who have visited Woodburn Hall have told stories about hearing the poor unfortunate cow's ghost in the bell tower, still mooing and bellering, trying to get out of a dire situation.

So the next time you visit West Virginia University, keep your eyes (and ears) open - you just might hear the sound of WVU's most vocal ghost - the Woodburn Hall Cow.