Centennial: CAFES History

Then and Now Facts

River Falls Agricultural Programming at a Glance...

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls was founded in 1874 as the fourth State Normal School in Wisconsin. Normal schools were established to train teachers and set teaching standards or norms, hence the name. The River Falls Normal School was the first in the northwestern part of the state. Its first building was dedicated on Sept. 2, 1875. When the original Normal School building was destroyed by fire in 1897, other communities sought to have the school moved. But the citizens of River Falls were determined to retain it, and the building now known as South Hall was completed in 1898. 

After the fire, only a half day of classes was missed, for the community offered churches, lodge rooms and other buildings as meeting places. The school experienced a slow but steady growth in curriculum and enrollment until 1912, when the Department of Educational Agriculture was established and enrollment leaped. Follow the history of the Department as it progresses from a Department to a Division, a School, and finally a College…..and prepares to celebrate its Centennial!

1910s:  The Beginning


It all began in 1911 when a law was passed mandating that agriculture be taught in high schools. By the end of the decade the campus farm was established and the first barn was erected.
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1920s:  The Fight for Equivalency


This was a tough decade for the fledgling Department of Agriculture as the faculty fought to have their graduates recognized as "equals" to graduates from the university campus in Madison.
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1930s and 1940s:  Depression and the War Years


The issue of "equivalency" finally gets resolved but the depression and World War II bring new challenges in enrollment of students and placement of graduates. Read more…

1950s:  Transformation


This was a decade of transformation as the campus responded to an influx of new and returning students by making changes in the curriculum and expanding facilities. Read more…

1960s:  Boom Years


New facilities, new students, new activities – This was a decade of rapid growth and change which set the stage for the College as we know it today. Read more…

1970s:  Reach and Reputation on the Rise


Enrollment doubles and the reach and reputation of the College expand. Read more...

1980s:  Continuing to Build...


...new facilities, new support systems and national recognition. Read more...

More Historical Info. Coming Soon!