Posted on September 30, 2008 by Tia Lalani

On Sept 28th, a BBQ was held to celebrate and remember Ole’s Crossing

“It’s a romantic notion to build a bridge.” So said Orlando Olson, the former Augustana faculty member, and designer/builder of Ole’s Crossing. With little money and inadequate equipment, but with ingenuity and the help of several enterprising individuals, the bridge was constructed, almost as an afterthought in the summer of 1975, across the ravine separating the then new residence buildings to the rest of the campus.

Memories of the bridge were shared and laughed about during a BBQ to commemorate Ole’s Crossing.

While the bridge first named the Ole Cross by former student union president Danny Hooper later came to be known as Ole’s Crossing, there were many who helped Orlando to build it and many others who helped maintain the bridge over the years. Augustana’s maintenance crew and summer students all remember their days fixing and, oftentimes, replacing sections of the bridge.

Over the years, Ole’s Crossing has come to symbolize much more than just a utilitarian bridge. It has become a romantic notion in the hearts and memories of countless students who crossed the bridge on a daily basis. From misty mornings that inspired contemplative thoughts to times when the bridge was a battlefield for snowball fights, memories of the bridge were shared and laughed about during a BBQ to commemorate Ole’s Crossing.

Orlando Olson signing pieces of the bridge.

Gathering on the new land crossing – the replacement for the bridge – the crowd heard from Orlando Olson, as well as By Reesor and Dean, Roger Epp. The emcee, Derek Kilbourn, also shared memories from former students and recounted his own tales of the bridge.

The day was not just about remembering one bridge, though. It was also about celebrating the changes on campus, like the land crossing that serves as the new bridge between the ravine residences and the main campus. The new land crossing embodies the same notions as Ole’s Crossing. It provides a crossing between two places, as well as a gathering place for students and, as was the case on Sunday, for BBQs. From the view of the land crossing, it was more than apparent that the campus landscape is changing as the new library’s structure dominated the view over the ravine.

Ole’s Crossing is a part of Augustana Campus’ history and it won’t be forgotten. Though the bridge will come down, pieces of it will survive. The Alumni Office is selling pieces of the bridge to help raise funds for the creation of a monument to commemorate the bridge. As well, a limited number of prints by former student Linda Blezzard depicting the bridge are also available for sale.

For more information on how to purchase a piece of history, please contact the Alumni & Special Events Office at 1.800.590.9992 or email

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