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Stanford History Unfolds While ‘Walking the Farm’

Oct 5 2017

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Tom DeMund, left, is the author of a new collection of walks on and around the Stanford University campus that is available now.

In collaboration with the author Tom DeMund, The Bill Lane Center for the American West has published “Walking the Farm,”  a unique book about Stanford University. It offers 18 themed walks around the Stanford campus, plus 16 hikes in the foothills near the campus and four more along the frontage of San Francisco Bay in East Palo Alto. 

The book takes its name from the practice of farmers walking around their farms in the spring to check for damaged fences and other issues that might have arisen during the winter. The Stanford campus’s nickname, “The Farm,” refers to the original use of the property owned by Governor Leland Stanford, as a farm for raising and breeding thoroughbred racehorses. 

Map from the book
Map from “Walking the Farm”

“The Bill Lane Center for the American West is proud to publish this walker’s guide to Stanford and its environs,” says the Center co-founder and former director, David M. Kennedy.  For more than a decade, the Bill Lane Center for the American West has organized walks on and around the Stanford campus -- and well beyond -- to trace and highlight the connections between the university's development and the region surrounding it. 

The 262-page book was printed in Visalia, California in September 2017. It includes 107 color photos and 31 black-and-white historical photos from the Stanford archives. Each chapter includes a full-page color map showing the route of the chapter’s walk or hike. The campus walk chapter descriptions include superscript numbers for each highlight along the route that correspond to numbers on the chapter’s map. Most of the foothill and bayfront hikes are an easy drive away from Stanford.

Each of the on-campus walk chapters follows a theme. One describes a 110-year flashback walk around campus, focusing on how it looked the day before and the day after the famed 1906 earthquake, and details the devastation that occurred.

The chapters describing walks around campus include details about Stanford history to enhance a reader’s enjoyment and knowledge about the university. Each of the on-campus walk chapters follows a theme, such as campus highlights, sculpture locations, sports facilities, science and engineering facilities, and the Stanford Research Park. One chapter describes a 110-year flashback walk around campus, focusing on how it looked the day before and the day after the famed 1906 earthquake, and details the devastation that occurred. Another chapter is titled “A 60-year flashback stroll on old fraternity row and women’s residences row.” Another history-filled chapter includes both a campus walk and drive around the boundary of the 8,180 acres owned by the university; this long loop visits the site of 48 mostly long-gone unusual features on Stanford property.

The author, Tom DeMund, is a Stanford alumnus with a long history of Stanford involvement. He is also the author of an award-winning hiking book, now in its sixth edition, that serves as a “hikers’ bible” for trails in a spectacular region of the Sierra Nevada. Tom’s on-campus teammate and coordinator has been Stanford’s Bill Lane Center for the American West, which is dedicated to advancing scholarly and public understanding of the past, present, and future problems affecting western North America.

Book Launch at Stanford

On October 16, Tom DeMund was joined by professor emeritus David M. Kennedy, Stanford Historical Society president Laura Jones, and the Center's Bruce E. Cain for a presentation and reception celebrating the publication of Walking the Farm.

Purchasing Information

The book is available for purchase direct from the publisher, and on campus at the Stanford University bookstore.

Official Walking the Farm Website


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