Skip to main content

Collection on the Ross Civil Engineering Camp

 Collection — Box: FF 29
Identifier: MSP 306

Scope and Contents

The Collection on Ross Civil Engineering Camp (1 cubic foot; 1920s-1960) documents the participants, tools, and locations of the Ross Civil Engineering Camp hosted by Purdue University. The collection mainly showcases unidentified groups of young men and women who participated in the camps, along with older men (presumably instructors) and a variety of tools used in civil engineering. Most years between 1922, when the first camp was held, and 1955 are represented, but there are some gaps in the years. Not all group photos have a year or location, and no group photos are labeled with names. The locations that are recorded include: Spencer, IN; Pentwater, MI; Bloomington, IN; and New Philadelphia, IN. Types of materials include: panoramic photographs and newspaper clippings. The Collection is organized into a single series.


  • 1920s-1960


Biographical or Historical Information

The Ross Civil Engineering Camp developed in response to a need for hands-on experience for Civil Engineering students at Purdue to practice surveying techniques. Initially, students learned surveying on campus, using the grounds as a space for learning the skill. However, in 1914, students began to attend an 8-week summer surveying camp in order to save more instructional time during the school year. The location of the camp was off-campus and varied from year to year. In 1914, the camp was located at the Indiana State Forest Preserve near Henryville, IN; in 1915-1919, at Pentwater, MI; the 1917 camp was cancelled due to the U.S. involvement in WWI. In 1920-2, the camp was held in Glen Lake, MI before returning to Pentwater in 1922-23 in order to accommodate increased participation. In 1924, the camp moved to McCormick State Park near Spencer, IN where it continued until 1926. The camp settled on a permanent location in 1927 when Purdue alumnus and trustee David E. Ross purchased land and built a camp facility for the civil engineering students to survey. The new location was 140 acres of rolling hills 12 miles southwest of campus. From 1927-1928, freshmen civil engineering students spent their summers helping build the camp infrastructure and buildings while also attending surveying classes. The camp was formally dedicated on October 13, 1928, attended by 300 civil engineering students. From 1929 to 1958, the camp was run by G.E. Lommel, Professor of Topographical Engineering. The camp facilities and infrastructure constructed by the students included an access road, main building, garage, gravel pit, electricity (added in 1939), septic tank, sewers, and swimming pool, among many other additions made throughout the years. A students’ typical day, as described by 1963 alumnus Leonard Hasse, started with the raising of the flag and breakfast. Students received surveying assignments which they worked on all day, breaking for lunch midday. In the evening, they would transcribe their notes, do plotting, and write reports. The Ross Camp was marked by a few notable events. In 1936, an accident occurred involving the Purdue football team, who were using the facilities for preseason training. While the team was showering, gasoline fumes being used to remove adhesive tape ignited. Two football players were killed and four others were severely injured. In 1939, the camp expanded by 100 acres to the southwest; meanwhile, preparations were made for an old farmhouse and barn to be torn down and the west 20 acres to be sold. In 1942, with the U.S. joining WWII, the camp was cancelled until 1946. In 1947, another accident occurred that killed two WWII veteran students. The students were standing in a wooden tower on the camp grounds when the measuring tape they were holding was caught in the wind and connected to a live electric line nearby, electrocuting them. The camp closed in 1960 and is now part of Ross Hills Park. Source: Material within collection Ross Summer Surveying Camp at Purdue." eConnections. School of Civil Engineering, Purdue University, April 2012. Web. 10 Feb. 2015. Lommel, G.E.. Summer Surveying Camp at Purdue University: Historically Important Events from 1914 to 1957. West Lafayette: Purdue University, 1959. Print.

Note written by


1.00 Cubic Feet

1.00 flat_file_drawer

Language of Materials


Collection on the Ross Civil Engineering Camp
In Progress
Michael Maune
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2019-11-19: Updated collection identifier from FF 29 to MSP 306, by Neal Harmeyer

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 W. State Street
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States