Nestled within the shadow of Mount Nittany, Penn State has been creating a storied history since its game on Nov. 6, 1893, played on Beaver Field against Western University of Pittsburgh (later to be known as University of Pittsburgh). The 32-0 victory set forth a long-standing tradition of protecting the turf at University Park, Pa. Back then Beaver Field had a mere 500-seat capacity, pale in comparison to the 107,282-capacity Beaver Stadium enjoys today.
Beaver Field soon turned into New Beaver Field, a stadium constructed solely of wood, and was dedicated in 1909 prior to a 31-0 win over Grove City. After converting to a steel structure in 1939, the site of Beaver Field remained the home of Penn State football until 1959. Upon the conclusion of that season, the 30,00-seat stadium was meticulously taken down and moved a mile to the east side of campus to be resurrected into what now is Beaver Stadium. The largest crowd packed the place to a reported tune of 110,753 on Sept. 4, 2002, for a victory over Nebraska.
Beaver Stadium is named in honor of James A. Beaver, a lawyer in nearby Bellefonte, Pa., during the start of the Civil War who enlisted in the Union Army and later served as superior court judge, governor of Pennsylvania and president of Penn State's Board of Trustees.
Equally influential as Beaver would be a man who has spent the better part of 61 seasons working within the Penn State football program. Joe Paterno joined the coaching staff in 1950 and took over the reins in 1966. The stalwart has been a part of a staff that has accounted for 505 of the university's 818 wins. In fact, Penn State is one of only eight teams with over 800 wins all-time. Paterno has more than 400 wins all-time, two National Championships and five Coach-of-the-Year honors. It's safe to say that Paterno's ambience permeates the place.
The regional lore behind the "Nittany" name belongs to a valorous Indian princess: Nittany was said to be the daughter of chief O-Ko-Cho, who lived near Penn's Creek here in the Keystone State. She fell in love with a trader named Malachi Boyer, but not long after her love was lost and she fell into a tearful state. The Great Spirit caused Mount Nittany to be formed in her honor.
The lion was selected by the student body in 1906; Penn State is believed to be the first college to adopt the lion as a mascot.