A JBU Landmark Takes the Next Step

The 100 Steps Are Gone

By Lucas Roebuck
6/28/2018 4:47:43 PM

Most every JBU alum has a story about the 100 Steps — the century of concrete rise-and-runs that forge a path from the Soderquist Business Center (built on the footprint of the beloved California Residence Hall) down to the Intramural Fields in “the valley” where many moons ago I’m told (and some of you may remember) was a pool and other athletic facilities.

You have probably counted them at some point your time on the JBU campus — when I was younger and lighter I used to sprint up them, usually very winded by the time I was around step number 85. By the time I was at 100, I always thought, “I couldn’t do one more...”

One more step has arrived.

As a part of the memorial constructed at the top of the 100 Steps to honor our memories of California dorm, the builders found it necessary to add one more step. A steam tunnel prevented the memorial from being placed right at the top of the already existing 100 Steps, and so a new step was added to connect the two memorable structures. California Building Memorial

Jerry Rollene ‘75, alumni director wrote: The Alumni Board and the University worked together to create a lasting remembrance of a building that made a huge impact on the life of so many students. The California Dorm Memorial, combined with the new walkway from the top of the (now) 101 Steps, to the parking lot provides a nice finished area where students can walk to and from the stairs when going to the intramural fields.

In the 1940s, the only way to get to the valley swimming pool and activities building was to walk around Mayfield down West University Street. In 1946, JBU received funding from Lippet Brothers Inc. to build a shortcut to the valley, a 100-stair shortcut to be exact.

JBU students, alumni and friends have been making memories on these stairs ever since.
 In 1948, JBU graduates posed on the 100 Steps for their commencement photo and processions.
Mandy Gert Richardson was carried up the steps on the back of JBU’s own star volleyball player Emily Goodlin Tiegreen ‘09. Richardson said it was “hardcore and terrifying.” 

When Rob Sorbo ‘07 was a member of the JBU rugby team, his legs cramped up and he fell flat on his back at the bottom of the stairs.
Daniel Miller ‘04 asked Gretchen Merwin Miller ‘04 to be his wife on 100 Steps the night before their graduation in 2004
Daniel Miller ‘04 asked Gretchen Merwin Miller ‘04 to be his wife on 100 Steps the night before their graduation in 2004 (pictured, right).

Joe Carr ‘75 remembers fondly when he ran down those steps with his roommate Ronnie Bate ‘76 for every intramural football game. After each game, they weren’t quite as enthusiastic to run back up, Carr reports.

Burt Wilkinson used the 100 Steps to train for an annual Colorado mountain climb. “Best conditioning I know,” Wilkinson said.

In 2011, when JBU got 23 inches of snow overnight, Karis Butler ’12 and her friends cleared a path next to the 100 Steps. They spent an afternoon sledding down the extremely steep hill.   “It definitely wasn’t one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made, but it sure was fun and memorable!” Butler said.

Johanna Merwin ‘12 had her mattress thrown down the 100 stairs during an intense prank war. She arrived just in time to see her mattress flop and fold all the way down the stairs. She solicited help to carry it back up.

 James Elliot ‘97 said that his favorite step is 47. Though he will not reveal why, some have their suspicions.

The 100... er... 101 Steps have done more than connect the valley to campus. The landmark has connected generations.


Lucas Roebuck is the director of university communications at John Brown University

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