The “Old Iron Kettle” is the coveted trophy that from 1941 to 1972 was awarded to the winner of the Bellefonte-State College football game.
As the two largest high schools in Centre County, Bellefonte and State College had a passionate rivalry for decades. The winner of the game proudly got to keep and display the kettle.
The idea of a trophy for the game winner came from Lou Bell, the former director of public information at Penn State. Bell suggested to Bob Wilson, the sports editor of the Centre Daily Times, that the newspaper sponsor a trophy.
Two unidentified Penn State students found the rusted kettle in 1940 while searching the remains of the mansion built by Philip Benner, an early settler and business leader of the county. The kettle is believed to have been made at Benner’s Rock Ironworks foundry.
Titan Metal Co. cleaned the iron kettle and affixed a brass plate on which the score of each game would be inscribed.
The first game for the trophy was played on September 19, 1941, at the “Hollow,” the stadium in State College that would later be dedicated as Memorial Field. Bellefonte won the game 7-0.
The annual game was played continuously until 1972 and in some years after that. The rivalry ended in 1999 when State College, which had become a far larger school, won the game 62-0.
The State College Area High School Alumni Association donated the kettle to the Centre County Historical Society in 2022. It is now displayed in the Centre Furnace Mansion’s Hearth Room.
Peters, Dick, “Red Raiders Nip State College.” Centre Daily Times, September 20, 1941.
“Centre County Historical Society Receives Old Iron Kettle,” Centre County Historical Society, March 31, 2022.
First Published: September 8, 2022
Last Modified: January 7, 2023