Skip to content

III. The New Campus Site

South Lake Union

It is confidently asserted that the new site of the University has not an equal in the world. 350 acres between two lakes, near an arm of the Pacific Ocean, these acres covered with a luxuriant vegetation and broken by beautiful contours, ample provision for all requirements of a great University and with the added advantage of being surrounded by a scientific arboretum and botanical garden; with all these advantages who can deny that the University of Washington is most admirably situated, and who can deny that the next six years, at the present rate of progress, will see the institution grow, expand and rise to the position intended for it, as the apex of this bright State’s system of education.

— Pacific Wave, August 1894

“Shore of Lake Union in its wild state” Photograph by A.W.Denny (UW 10003)

The New Campus

TreesThe new campus site was purchased in 1893. However, work on the site began in August, 1892 with 72 men employed in clearing and 21 in grading the site. Seventy-six acres were “underbrushed and cleaned up”, 56 acres were “cleared and burned”, and 12 acres “stumped and grubbed” before work was suspended due to the controversy surrounding the Commission’s work.

“Grove of young conifers” Photograph by A.W.Denny


A. W. Denny Photographs

The University paid A. W. Denny $12.95 to take seventeen photographs of the campus site. One of the lake is captioned, “Shore of Lake Union in its wild state.” In addition to photographs showing the forest, there are photographs of areas where the trees have been cut and the area is “ready for the stumpers”; photographs of land “cleared of heavy trees and stumps, ready for the plows and levelers”; and one where the ground has been cleared and leveled.


In spite of the effective work of the stump puller, many stumps remained on the campus for a number of years. The photograph below showing men on the hillside was taken on Campus Day 1904. Campus Day was started by Edmond Meany. On campus days, students and faculty joined together to work on improving the campus.

The Stump Puller


“This machine created considerable interest on the grounds and received favorable comment from progressive men, as well as criticism from the advocates of powder and cheap labor. It consists of a heavy steel frame on runners, on which is horizontally mounted a powerful geared chain-wheel which engages and pulls the main chain of the machine. In operation the puller is anchored by a back cable to the foot of a large stump and from this one ‘set up’ all the stumps within a circle of seven or eight acres can be pulled without a change of location. We used a double sweep and four horses, which gave sufficient power with the gearing to pull any stump on the ground with ease. Experiments have shown that stumps of ten foot firs are readily pulled. The largest stump pulled on the ground had a spread of the roots of 42 feet, and required twenty minutes to pull.”

— “The Chief Engineer’s Report” in the 1892 Report of the University Land and Building Commission

Campus Day 1904