GALLERY: Anniversary 'R' Hike
For 100 years, the “R” has been a symbol of the University of Redlands, seen far and wide. On March 16, more than 100 students and alumni trekked up a hillside in the San Bernardino Mountains to pay homage to the icon in honor of its centennial.
The “R” started as a prank in 1913, and one of the students involved, Walter Hentschke ‘1914, went on to become a Board of Trustees member and namesake for Hentschke Hall. His great-grandson, Wesley Horn ’13, knew that he had to walk in his great-grandfather’s footsteps during the anniversary hike.
“I have never done this hike before, but have wanted to for years,” Horn said before the event. “I think this is the perfect opportunity.”
During his great-grandfather’s day, seniors “required” freshmen clear the brush that surrounded the letter. On Homecoming, the “R” would light up, thanks to highway flares, and Redlands students and residents would look up in awe. By the 1960s and ‘70s, the “R” was neglected, and nearly overgrown with brush. In 1984, Greg Horn ’87 (no relation to Wesley) started a campaign to restore the “R,” which culminated in Greg reaching his goal after 22 hikes.
The “R” has been maintained regularly ever since, and the journey up is not as difficult as it once was.
“We were lucky to have vehicles through parts of this trip,” Horn said. “I cannot imagine doing this 100 years ago. My hat goes off to Walter Hentschke and every other person who made the ‘R’ a possibility.”
The hike was steep, and the group enjoyed stopping and taking in the sweeping views. Once they made it to the “R,” it was time to get to work; branches were removed, plants were dug up, and wood was cut.
It was an experience that Horn will never forget.
“It’s crazy to think my great-grandfather was here 100 years ago,” he said. “I’m so grateful to the University and community for keeping this tradition alive and so happy for the people I have met along the way.”
Posted: March 18, 2014
Written by: Catherine Garcia