Lighting the Y

As mentioned in President Worthen’s devotional address earlier this month, the lighting of the Y has been a long tradition at Brigham Young University. The first lighting was made in 1924, and became a regular event at special events in the years that followed. As described in an early newspaper account,

members of the student body and many towns-people were thrilled…to see the big block ‘Y’ on the mountain east of Provo outlined in flames.
The Y is light for important campus activities

The Gold Y, a campus-based honorary service fraternity, took responsibility for lighting the Y after its establishment in 1936, taking its name from the symbol of the lit Block Y on the mountain. In 1941 this group joined the national Intercollegiate Knights organization as its Gold Y Chapter.

Among the records of the Intercollegiate Knights held by the University Archives is the Gooker’s Guide, a detailed set of instructions for their members on how school letter was to be lit, including directions for creating the balls of mattress stuffing used for the fires and detailed diagrams for the placement of oil pots around the Y. Oil pots diagram, showing placement of fires around the Block Y. The Intercollegiate Knights lit the Y in this way regularly until the the spring of 1985 when a class gift of electric lights and a generator replaced the oil pots. This past summer, the university installed permanent lights around the letter to simplify the process of lighting the Y.

For more information on lighting the Y or the Intercollegiate Knights, see this earlier posting or contact the University Archivist at

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