WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Penn State Nittany Lions are on the road to open the 2022 season against Purdue. If you've ever thought about a Purdue road trip, there are plenty of unique things to do on campus.
The Boilermakers are no strangers to icons and great traditions. After all, Neil Armstrong is an alum, the Purdue marching band has the world's largest drum, and Purdue Pete is unmistakable. But if you want to have some fun on a trip to campus you need to stop, listen, and then get on track.
The high-pitched whistle means one thing, the "Boilermaker Special" is inbound and you are in for a treat with a ride around campus on the coolest set of wheels.
“We are the spirit of Purdue," says Boilermaker Special Pilot Lauren Goldman. "I like to think that when people see us they want the horns and are bringing that spirit to them”
That is a lot of spirit for the black and gold faithful. The Boilermaker Special is not just some cardboard cut on wheels. This train weighs in at 13,000 pounds and the Boilermakers claim it the world's fastest, heaviest, and, loudest college mascot.
Catching a tour up close and your ears will justify the claim.
Across the nation, Purdue Pete and his sledgehammer and helmet may be more well known, but to anyone who knows the true meaning of "Boiler Up," the Special has him beat for fan favorite.
“It is our official mascot," beams a smiling Hayden Malackowski. The Purdue senior should know as he is the student section leader during basketball season. When Malackowski is on the "Boilermaker Special" if he isn't clapping along to the fight song he is yelling to fellow students during the ride.
"Purdue Pete is just a figure that runs around on the field," continues Malackowski. "It is cool to have a ride around campus. Last year I went to the UCONN game and it was pretty cool to see all the Reamers and the train out there. It is a special tradition of Purdue.
Special indeed, as the dream began in 1939 and continues on with no signs of running out of steam. In fact, when Goldman is behind the controls it is the best part of her week.
"Being able to drive through campus, when there are lots of students and operate the whistles and horns. Just having all the spirit through the week is definitely the highlight."
She and her fellow Reamers have one job for those who love the black and gold of Purdue.
“Support the team and to support the school and to support the fans for coming to support the team as well."
Did I mention that this beast of a mascot can travel at 75 miles per hour? Special indeed.