snopes.com  

Go Back   snopes.com > Urban Legends > College

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 05 July 2007, 02:08 PM
SamuelJones SamuelJones is offline
 
 
Join Date: 02 July 2007
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 105
Default University of Missouri-Columbia State Pen

Hi All,

I haven't posted here in years. I'm checking in on a "well known historical fact" that in the mid-1800's the powers that be in the city government of Jefferson City Missouri were given 2 choices. They could either host the new state college or they could host the new state penitentiary.

They chose the state penitentiary because it would be much better for their economy.

... And then the teller somehow communicates to the listener that Jeff City's decision was a wise one that has served them well over the years.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 05 July 2007, 05:02 PM
dfresh dfresh is offline
 
Join Date: 11 November 2005
Location: Oxford, PA
Posts: 4,249
Default

I was told the same thing in Washington: that the OTHER town got first pick, so Seattle was stuck with University of Washington.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 05 July 2007, 05:08 PM
Illuminatus Illuminatus is offline
 
Join Date: 26 February 2004
Location: California
Posts: 1,695
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by SamuelJones View Post
Hi All,

I haven't posted here in years. I'm checking in on a "well known historical fact" that in the mid-1800's the powers that be in the city government of Jefferson City Missouri were given 2 choices. They could either host the new state college or they could host the new state penitentiary.

They chose the state penitentiary because it would be much better for their economy.

... And then the teller somehow communicates to the listener that Jeff City's decision was a wise one that has served them well over the years.
I've heard that same story about the University of Colorado-Boulder. It's told like this: When Colorado was attempting to become a state, it needed a university and a prison. Boulder and another city (I forgot which) competed for the prison. Boulder lost."
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 05 July 2007, 05:34 PM
Elkhound Elkhound is offline
 
Join Date: 09 October 2002
Location: Charleston, WV
Posts: 10,676
Default

The same story is told about Mpls., St. Paul, and Stillwater, MN; St. Paul got the capital and Stillwater was given the choice between the University and the prison. They chose the prison, so Mpls. got 'stuck' with the University.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 05 July 2007, 06:14 PM
Duckie Queen
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Let's see: Prision= bad people locked up not causing harm.
University= bad and good people running around crazy, doing all sorts of damage

Which would you prefer?

(of course I'm joking, please don't take offense. I went to a college with a large prison near by and the joke was that the prisoners were better behaved then the college kids.)
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 05 July 2007, 08:03 PM
SamuelJones SamuelJones is offline
 
 
Join Date: 02 July 2007
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 105
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Duckie Queen View Post
Let's see: Prision= bad people locked up not causing harm.
University= bad and good people running around crazy, doing all sorts of damage

Which would you prefer?

(of course I'm joking, please don't take offense. I went to a college with a large prison near by and the joke was that the prisoners were better behaved then the college kids.)
No - I think that this is not a "joke" at all. I think that is the exact intent of the story. Good - this is a UL, not on Snopes's site and if I don't get chowed then I believe that I've done a good deed.

In my experience the story is always told by a non-traditional student, a townie, or a faculty member and is told as the retort to the "this town is so lucky to have us" attitude of traditional students. The UMC story was hard to disprove because the prison and the University were founded within a few years of each other and failure to mention the "choice" in historical documents does not really disprove that the choice existed.

But one must at least admit that it couldn't be true in all the cities that it happened in this it supposedly happened in, so I do believe that it should qualify as a bona fide UL.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 06 July 2007, 03:59 PM
Elkhound Elkhound is offline
 
Join Date: 09 October 2002
Location: Charleston, WV
Posts: 10,676
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by SamuelJones View Post
No - I think that this is not a "joke" at all. I think that is the exact intent of the story. Good - this is a UL, not on Snopes's site and if I don't get chowed then I believe that I've done a good deed.
One thing that adds a little more credibility to the stories is that in the time period in which they were set not as many people (either absolutely or in terms of proportion of the population) went to college as now, but the frontier was always by repute a somewhat lawless place.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 06 July 2007, 04:49 PM
SamuelJones SamuelJones is offline
 
 
Join Date: 02 July 2007
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 105
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elkhound View Post
One thing that adds a little more credibility to the stories is that in the time period in which they were set not as many people (either absolutely or in terms of proportion of the population) went to college as now, but the frontier was always by repute a somewhat lawless place.
I dunno.... the percentage of people incarcerated has grown alot in the last 100 years or so too. Just like the percentage of people attending college.

Anyway, yeah picking 1870-1890 as the "Wild West" time, with all the factors leading into a time of lawlessness it might make sense to attach this UL to the Gophers, Huskies, and the Buffaloes.

But not the Tigers. Mizzou has been around since the 1830's, well before the James Gang caused all that trouble.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 04 August 2007, 04:49 PM
rogue74656's Avatar
rogue74656 rogue74656 is offline
 
Join Date: 17 October 2005
Location: Norman, OK
Posts: 228
Default The OTHER Stillwater chose the college

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elkhound View Post
The same story is told about Mpls., St. Paul, and Stillwater, MN; St. Paul got the capital and Stillwater was given the choice between the University and the prison. They chose the prison, so Mpls. got 'stuck' with the University.
As an Oklahoma State University alumnus (Stillwater, OK) I must point out that they DID choose the college. The University put out a book series during it's centennial that tells about the founding of Oklahoma A&M. They leaders of the young town of Stillwater felt that a university would help the town to grow to importance in the state.

-Rogue
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 20 September 2007, 01:14 AM
jayjaybear jayjaybear is offline
 
 
Join Date: 07 February 2004
Location: Lancaster, PA
Posts: 688
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by rogue74656 View Post
As an Oklahoma State University alumnus (Stillwater, OK) I must point out that they DID choose the college. The University put out a book series during it's centennial that tells about the founding of Oklahoma A&M. They leaders of the young town of Stillwater felt that a university would help the town to grow to importance in the state.

-Rogue
Stillwater, Minnesota, not Oklahoma.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 23 September 2007, 08:30 AM
Ramblin' Dave's Avatar
Ramblin' Dave Ramblin' Dave is offline
 
Join Date: 11 May 2005
Location: Singapore
Posts: 13,120
Default

Look at Rogue's title line: "The OTHER Stillwater chose the college." Rogue knew the previous posts were about Stillwater, Minnesota.

By the way, I've never run into anybody who subscribed to the "This town is lucky to have us" attitude referred to above. I have met students who didn't particularly like the way townies looked at them as a bunch of troublemakers just because they weren't from there, and I have known some students who didn't have a particularly good attitude about townies either. But thinking the town owes them anything? Not that I can recall.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 23 September 2007, 04:24 PM
Illuminatus Illuminatus is offline
 
Join Date: 26 February 2004
Location: California
Posts: 1,695
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by SamuelJones View Post
In my experience the story is always told by a non-traditional student, a townie, or a faculty member and is told as the retort to the "this town is so lucky to have us" attitude of traditional students. The UMC story was hard to disprove because the prison and the University were founded within a few years of each other and failure to mention the "choice" in historical documents does not really disprove that the choice existed.
When I heard the story it was told either as a fable about shortsightedness or a "look at how this town got lucky" story. The other town (I think it was Canon City, CO) and Boulder competed for the prison because prisons brought in jobs and government dollars. The university (which was tiny back then) would only provide good jobs to intellectuals who came from back east anyway. However, 125 years later, Canon City is still just a podunk town with a prison in it, and Boulder has many enormous companies and research labs brought there by the presence of the university.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 23 September 2007, 06:06 PM
jayjaybear jayjaybear is offline
 
 
Join Date: 07 February 2004
Location: Lancaster, PA
Posts: 688
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ramblin' Dave View Post
Look at Rogue's title line: "The OTHER Stillwater chose the college." Rogue knew the previous posts were about Stillwater, Minnesota.


Sorry...I should have caught that...
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 09 December 2007, 05:35 PM
lee13773
 
Posts: n/a
Default Rock Chalk

The same myth is told around Lawrence, KS, with one addition:

Leavenworth was given first choice as a result of Reconstruction, since Leavenworth was one of the cities that submitted a state constitution as a slave state and Lawrence got second choice because we had the vision to see Kansas as a beacon of freedom on a high hill.

I really like that story, except KU opened in 1866, and Leavenworth wasn't selected as a site for a federal pen until 1875.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 25 September 2009, 08:40 PM
Magdalene Magdalene is offline
 
Join Date: 30 October 2001
Location: Colorado
Posts: 5,692
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Illuminatus View Post
I've heard that same story about the University of Colorado-Boulder. It's told like this: When Colorado was attempting to become a state, it needed a university and a prison. Boulder and another city (I forgot which) competed for the prison. Boulder lost."
Two years late, I know, but since I just sent in my application to CU....I was reading on that. The other city was Canon City, and since they already had a few prisons there, they decided they'd get the new prison and Boulder would get the university.

Magdalene
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 26 September 2009, 06:05 PM
mindiloohoo
 
Posts: n/a
Default

I've heard this same story about Dekalb, IL and Joliet, IL. Joliet chose the prison (stateville...as featured on Prison Break), and Dekalb got "stuck" with NIU.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 29 September 2009, 11:33 PM
Elwood's Avatar
Elwood Elwood is offline
 
Join Date: 28 February 2003
Location: Fairmont, WV
Posts: 3,832
Default

I think this joke is repeated in every college town, especially ones with reputations for being party schools. Here in WV, Moundsville is said to have had the opportunity to choose the penitentiary or the college, choosing the former because "at least they'll be locked up."

If one wanted to take it seriously, they could abuse statistics. On paper, college towns appear to be poor. Morgantown, WV, despite being cited is recession-proof in The Wall Street Journal and boasting a rapid rate of development across a range of industries, officially has 38% of the population living below the poverty line. Sleepy Moundsville, WV, with obvious poverty issues, only has 22% below the line. Clearly Moundsville made the right choice!
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 04 October 2009, 12:51 PM
Ulkomaalainen Ulkomaalainen is offline
 
Join Date: 14 August 2009
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Posts: 89
Default

A similar story from Germany: the famous "Festes Haus" prison in Celle was - according to legend - voted for by the townspeople over an university, because a prison would not endanger their daughter's virginities. No veryfiable sources support this, but be sure to be told the story when visiting Celle.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 10:07 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.