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Walking the Farm: After the Earthquake

Surabhi Balachander
Jul 22 2019

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Surabhi Balachander, a graduate student at the University of Michigan, and Mira Olson, a student at Mountain View High School, are spending their summers working at the Bill Lane Center for the American West. During their time at Stanford, they explored two hikes through campus from Tom DeMund's Walking the Farm. Here, Balachander recounts following the impact of the 1906 earthquake.

On the kind of gorgeous July afternoon—blue skies, not hot, not cold, a light breeze—that feels like it’s only possible in the Bay Area, Mira and I decided to take one of the campus walks Tom DeMund recommends in Walking the Farm. We chose “A 110-Year Flashback Stroll Around the Campus the Day Before and the Day After ‘the Big One,’” and followed Tom’s text detailing the impact of the 1906 Bay Area earthquake on Stanford’s campus.

We selected this walk to see campus through a different lens than we normally do. As a Stanford alumna (’17) returning to campus for the first time in a year, I was glad we’d picked an explicitly historical path. Chatting with Mira as we walked, I found myself pointing out new buildings and telling stories about certain locations from my undergrad days. I realized how much campus has changed since my freshman year, six years ago, and that my own view of campus is now somewhat historicized. I imagine that Tom, having graduated from Stanford decades before I did, felt this even more intensely when he was writing Walking the Farm.

This was the end of our afternoon journey through Stanford campus palimpsest. This land has seen five years of my personal history, 128 years of university history, several more as the Stanfords’ stock farm, and thousands and thousands as the ancestral home of the Muwekma Ohlone. Next time we walk around campus, we’ll keep all this history in mind.

Read about Surabhi and Mira's Dish hike here.


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