How much do you really know about the Thundering Herd, the heart and soul of Huntington? Here are some facts (some not very well known) about a great West Virginia institution.

1. Before the Civil War, the school was known as Marshall’s Academy. It was closed for most of the 1860’s, before being resurrected by the newly formed West Virginia state legislature as a “normal school” to train teachers.

2. The school was founded in 1837, a full three decades before WVU was founded.

3. According to tradition, the school was planned at the home of a local lawyer, John Laidley. They named the school in honor of then-Chief Supreme Court Justice John Marshall.

4. In homage to the 1970 Thundering Herd team that was killed in a tragic airplane accident, water does not flow in the fountain dedicated to them from November 14 (the day of the crash) until the first day of spring practice the next year.


5. John Deaver Drinko, the man for whom the Drinko Library is named, wrestled bears as a child during the Depressing to earn money to support his family. (But he’s more well known for being a prominent Cleveland lawyer.)

6. Also during the Depression, the school accepted “IOU’s” and even potatoes in exchange in lieu of tuition payment.

7. Marshall has had many mascots and nicknames over the years: The Indians,  Judges, Green Goblers, Boogercats, the Rams, and Big Green.

8. In a landslide vote in 1965, students, facility and alumni chose “Thundering Herd” as the official team name, ending decades of debate.


9. The name originated with a local sports editor who liked the 1925 western novel “The Thundering Herd” so much he started calling the school’s team that.

10. Marco the Bison’s name comes from a mashup of the school’s name: Marshall College.

11. And at one football game at Fairfield Stadium, he looked like this:

(via Marshall University Archives)

(via Marshall University Archives)

12. The original colors of the school were black and blue.

13. The voice of Chucky in the “Child’s Play” film series, Brad Dourif, studied for a time at Marshall before leaving to study acting in New York on the advice of another Marshall alum, “Two and a Half Men’s” Conchata Ferrell.

14. The campus was completely underwater in the great flood of 1937, when the Ohio River crested at 69 feet, (That’s before they built the wall.)

15. Total undergraduate enrollment is just under 10,000 students, slightly half of WVU’s.

What’s your favorite thing about Marshall? Tell us below!

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