Throwback Thursday: Down with the Slough, up with the Theatre!

‘Tis the musical month of May! Orchestra, Band, Choirs all clamor in sound. As of last year a new sort of concert came to Augustana – Sloughfest! Fostering the spirit of a large, outdoor music festival, Sloughfest returns this year on May 7th in the Lower Quad.

Although it’ll be a good time on the Quad, can you imagine celebrating in an outdoor venue? Can you imagine it taking place if part of Slough was, say, missing? Until 1982, these imaginings formed reality in the shape of the Augustana Memorial Amphitheatre (AMA). Prior to that time, people didn’t refer to the Slough Path as the slough path, instead referring to the area as the ‘ravine walkway’ and the slough as a whole as ‘Bergendoff’s Slough.’

Although a central part of Augie’s landscape, the slough wasn’t nearly as well thought of as it is today, and students sought to improve it for entertainment purposes. Prior to the AMA project, students pushed to create a pond area that could be filled in for ice-skating. The ice-skating pond didn’t come to pass, but students still took the initiative in transforming the natural space. In 1952, students John Reinertsen and Knute Erickson proposed transforming the slough part of the ravine into an amphitheater. Reinertsen envisioned the amphitheater serving as a gathering space for students and community members, as well as memorializing the Augustana men who lost their lives during the World Wars (thus its name, the Augustana Memorial Amphitheatre).


Image C-F898: Construction on the Augustana Memorial Amphitheatre, Augustana College Photograph Collection

The first two issues to be addressed in moving forward with the project were financing and drainage, which also happened to be the two greatest difficulties the project faced. The first Slough Committee formed in 1951, and fundraising began in earnest. The first fundraiser was a record sale in which the Augie Choir recorded two songs, which were then sold, with the proceeds going toward the project.

Construction began in 1952, and students volunteered their Saturdays to dig trenches and tile in order to drain the Slough. Three dams were also built for this purpose, and the college collaborated with the city in relation to the drainage issue, with Mayor Melvin McKay writing that in order for it to be solved the students would need to use a ‘sewer of ample size’ at the location. The tapped the sewer, yet money still remained a primary interest point for the students involved. In 1953, the Slough Committee set $10,000 as their fundraising goal, with the most popular and lucrative fundraiser being the ‘line of pennies,’ first held in Moline then approved and held in Rock Island. It’s a really neat idea in which pennies are laid out end-to-end on a cloth, which is then rolled up.


Augustana Observer, May 15, 1952.

In 1954, every student found themselves invested in the AMA. The Student Union approved that 10% of the tuition-mandated ‘activity ticket dollar’ go toward the project. Although construction of the stage was set to begin at this time, the manholes from the sewer caused an ‘odor problem’ needed to be addressed before President Bergendoff would condone further construction of the amphitheater.

With this issue finally resolved, planning went forward to create an outdoor stage in 1955. The 1956 Rockety-I contains a featured photo of the AMA, which is where the administration held that year’s commencement ceremony. Finally, during Homecoming of 1957, the AMA was officially dedicated, six years after initial planning began. For further information about the slough and the amphitheater specifically, consult the Augustana Observer databaseAn Historical Survey of the Augustana College Campus by Glen E. Brolander, and MSS 67 Augustana College buildings and grounds records, box 1


Image C-L69: Augustana Memorial Amphitheatre, circa 1957, Augustana College Photograph Collection


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Why publish in Augustana Digital Commons? Ask Dan


Dan Herrera says, “When it was first suggested I publish my work on the Augustana Digital Commons, I thought very little of it. At the time it seemed like just another complication added to my final project. In the end I decided to submit it for publication; and I couldn’t be happier with the results.”

“Publishing my work allowed me to list it on my resume, which caught the eye of several potential employers. Ultimately it played a large part in my being offered a paid research position through the Smithsonian Institute at a field station in Panama. Publishing my work in the Augustana Digital Commons allowed me to not only showcase my best work, but contributed to making my wildest dreams become reality.”

Thanks for sharing your story, Dan and perhaps this could make a difference for you too. Talk with your prof and decide if your work is ready to be published. Questions? Contact Connie Ghinazzi and I’ll be happy to help.

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First year students, you could win $400!

The Tredway Library Prize for First-Year Research recognizes an outstanding research paper written by a first-year Augustana student for a class in the Liberal Studies or Honors sequence. The award promotes students’ active engagement in the processes of library research and encourages them to synthesize library research skills with the reading, writing and critical thinking skills developed in the first-year sequence.

For more details, look at the Library Prize webpage: or ask a librarian for details.

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Digital Commons Birthday Party Today!

Jorge's BirthdayHelp us celebrate the Augustana Digital Commons’ 1st birthday! Join us today between 2 and 5 pm for some cake on the 2nd floor of the library.

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Happy 1st Birthday, Augustana Digital Commons!

Jorge's BirthdayAugustana Digital Commons showcases outstanding scholarly and creative works of the students, faculty, and staff of Augustana College. By providing free and open access to these unique materials, Augustana Digital Commons connects the intellectual output of the college with scholarship worldwide, thus contributing to the formation of new knowledge.

Come help us celebrate our first year hosting Augustana Digital Commons. On Tuesday, April 19 from 2 -5  pm, we invite students, faculty, administration and staff to stop by for a piece of birthday cake. You’ll be able to see some of the outstanding work that has been published in Augustana Digital Commons and hear how its making a difference for our students. We can also help you create a permanent home for your best work.

So take a break during week seven and have some cake. We’ll be celebrating right next to the periodicals on 2nd floor of the library.

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Birthday Party for Augustana Digital Commons

Jorge's Birthday

Augustana Digital Commons is turning one year old, and you are invited to help us celebrate! Come to the library on Tuesday, April 19 between 2 – 5 PM. There will be an opportunity to ask questions about what it is and what it does, see examples of student and faculty work that has been published,  and most importantly — eat cake! We hope you’ll join us for a fun afternoon. For more information, contact

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Need help with a CoL application? Ask a librarian!


Are you ready to submit your application for Celebration of Learning but have some questions? Tredway Library’s librarians are here to help. Come to the 2nd floor of the library and talk with the librarian on duty or the Research Student Worker.

We can help you set up your account in Augustana Digital Commons and create your application for Celebration of Learning. For assistance, come to the Research Help Saturday 12-4, Sunday 3-10 pm, Monday – Thursday 10-4 and 5:30 -10. Friday help is available 10-4.

Going through this process DOES NOT mean your work is automatically published in Augustana Digital Commons, but only allows the sharing of the description for your work that would be published in the Celebration of Learning program. You and your professor will decide if the full text or creative work is ready for publication. If that is the case, all that needs to be done would be to add the finished work to this document.

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