The “O” on Table Mountain
Courtesy of the Oroville Union High School District
If you have been to the “O” you no doubt found yourself sitting down near it, catching your breath after the strenuous climb, and wondering about those that made this 79 year old symbol of our town. It’s a wonder all right. The view from there is impressive; the same can be said for the planning and effort that were required to plan the mammoth mountainside monogram.
Dedicated on June 8, 1929 by Morrow Steadman, the big “O” has a concrete thickness of four inches, and was measured by its builders to be 87 feet by 33 feet. It was intended to last through the generations and convey a spirit of good sportsmanship in local high school athletic events.
It was to have another meaning too. Steadman wrote in the ’29 OHS Yearbook, the “Alpha” and said he hoped the “O” would remind students of “cooperation and teamwork, both on the athletic fields and in our school activities”. According to classmates, Steadman and his brother Ernie, were most responsible for planning and seeing it through.
Building the “O” was yet just an idea as late as midterm graduation time in February of 1929. Imagine what it would be to tote a sack of concrete up the rocky incline. The job required immense amounts of physical labor. It took a special talent to motivate others in that ambitious Table Mountain project. It was an attitude and is perhaps best represented by a remark made by student body President “Rusty” Jacobs. “There is going to be a Block “O” on Table Mountain if he and Morrow have to build it”. As it was, the number of volunteers was quite small, and reached a low point about half way through the work. Just a few were really dedicated. It was when they decided to “let the girls come up with some food”, that some work really got done after that.
Surveyor for the layout was Douglas Chambers. He took a transit shot from the 50 yard line of the OHS football field to Table Mountain. He used a huge paper “O” which was laid upon the slope. Boys pulled a sled with drums of water and other heavy things up the steep pass, including a gasoline mixer, which was used for the total of 108 sacks of concrete and dumped into forms of axles driven into cracks in the lava rock.
The “O” was finished in a little over two months.
While the “O” has been taken for granted by all of us in the class of ’58, it has been watching over the town of Oroville since June 8, 1929; Through the Great Depression, December 7, 1941, World War II, Nuclear Power, Korean War, Vietnam War, Television, Landing on the Moon, computers, and September 11, 2001 (not to mention microwaves and the Edsel!)
This was taken in part from an article written by Dan Wilson, 2008