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Urban legends

From Bloomingpedia

Urban Legends are folklore tales which are thought to be factual by the storytellers. An Urban legend distorts reality in that it involves personally known places and events, but not people. Such tales usually happen to a "friend of a friend". There are several urban legends specific to Bloomington and Indiana University.

Indiana University

Many of the legends in Bloomington concern IU. John McDowell, a professor in the Folklore Department at the university, teaches a course entitled "Folklore of Student Life." A major portion of this class is the collection of verbal folklore from IU students. Prof. McDowell has created a website to chronicle these findings which include legends, jokes, rituals, poetry, and others.

Wells Library

Northwest corner as seen from the Arboretum.


Perhaps the most famous Urban legend concerning Bloomington is the case of the Wells Library. The story is that when the library was built, the architect failed to take into account the weight of the books that would be stored there, and ever since the library has been slowly sinking. (The story is clearly untrue, as the library sits on a massive bed of Limestone that is not about to give way.) Part of the reason this legend is well known is that it is mentioned on the guided tour of IU campus.

11th Floor

Showalter Fountain

Showalter Fountain by Kagan Tuncay.

Another legend involves Showalter Fountain: If a virgin ever graduates from Indiana University, one of the dolphins in the fountain will disappear. As dolphins have disappeared from time to time, the legend might be true; but it seems more likely that the dolphins are taken by vandals or pranksters.

Rose Well House

Rose Well House

Rose Well House by Kagan Tuncay.

Free Tuition

One popular legend always circulating is on how to receive free tuition. According to the tale, all a student needs to do is get hit by a bus on campus, and they have a "free ride" the rest of their college career.

Underground Tunnels


Stepp Cemetery

Stepp Cemetery [1] [2]