The Centennial History of Tufts College, 1952

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The College as a Campus Community

The College as a Campus Community


Tufts has chapters of Phi Beta Kappa,

Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Xi, and a number of other specialized honorary academic societies. There are also student chapters of national societies in civil, mechanical, electrical and


chemical engineering, and in other special fields.

In the early days the Tufts campus was an isolated community. Student life was

restricted to the campus and college buildings. At first there were not even regular roadways to the college. An old cart path ran through part of one of the Tufts farms, passing what is now Capen House and turning up by what is now the President's House to the top of the hill. This path was used to haul the materials used in the construction of the "college edifice." The railroad built a few years before Tufts began provided the only convenient means of coming to or going from "College Hill" railroad station as the Tufts community, and post office were then officially called. In old catalogues the following note appears:

The Woburn Center trains which leave the depot of the Lowell Railroad in Boston stop at the College station.

A few Boston and Maine trains still stop at "Tufts College," but even the "new" college station has now reverted to Tufts and is used as a workshop for the Drama Department. This department, incidentally, has not only this workshop but also a building exclusively devoted to the first regular arena


theatre in New England. Down through the years Tufts has been well known for its student dramatic performances and its department of Drama and Speech.

Something of the primitive nature of

transportation in the early days of the college is indicated by the fact that at least occasionally Tufts students would walk to Medford, hire a rowboat, calculate the tide, row to Boston, attend the theatre or a concert as Tufts students still do, and return with the tide. In these early days there were only one or two houses between Tufts and the Mystic River. Tufts students in the fifties could walk down to the pungent shipyards and watch great East Indiamen and clipper ships on the ways and smell the odors of pine and tar. These healthy smells were not unmixed with the special odor produced by the then prosperous business of distilling Medford rum.

The Tufts community, now no longer isolated, still has its connections with the

Mystic River. For some time two boat clubs each with its separate boat house and boats were used by rival Tufts societies on the Mystic River. The present Tufts Yacht Club house and its fleets of sailing dinghies on the Mystic Lakes at the head of the Mystic River are the lineal descendants of these early nautical ventures of the college.