Find King Spud at the Digital Library of Idaho
Below you will find the strange tale of Professor Robin Higgins, and a grand prize awaits the first person to solve that mystery. However, we also have a neat reward for anyone who helps us spot King Spud on the Digital Library of Idaho. If you just have a few minutes to spare, the regal potato is waiting for you to find him there.
The mysterious research of Professor Robin Higgins
Dr. Robin Higgins was a professor of Agricultural Hagiography at the University of Idaho from 1973-1987. While the bulk of his research focused on the liminal oral traditions of small farming communities in rural Idaho, he became fascinated with the folk tale of King Spud, a local legend that seemed to underlie much of the research he conducted. He noted that failed harvests and bumper crops alike were credited to this apocraphal figure. In his diaries he indicated that he believed the idea was all in jest, a kind of inside joke among the farm families. This seemed to be substantiated by the trophy which was created to celebrate the good natured rivalry between the University of Idaho and Idaho State University. Then, the trophy went missing, a trivial event that appears to have distressed Professor Higgins beyond all rationality. His scholarly research abruptly ends during this period, and it seems he spent his last years at the University in a frantic search for the trophy. The last entry in his diary appears to be a poem about King Spud.
The strange career of Professor Higgins had been forgotten with the passage of time. His legitimate research, while unique, fell out of fashion as decades passed. As for his crusade to discover King Spud, that remained contained in his personal papers. Papers that sat in an unlabelled box in a little used corner of the University Archives. The 1990s saw many major rennovations on campus, and we presume that the Higgins box was simply lost in the masses of materials being moved as offices and storage spaces were demolished and rebuilt. However it came to rest here anonymously, it was only during a recent inventory project that his writings were re-discovered.
Along with his own writing, Professor Higgins kept an indecipherable set of photos, reproduced below. It is unclear if he discovered images in which King Spud already existed, or, as is more likely, if he was superimposing images of King Spud upon existing images. In either eventuality, it is hard to ignore the idea that there is a hidden message here.
One of the photographs appeared to be blank, with only the notation “handsome potato” on the back. We are hoping that the Digital Library of Idaho might have that final photo, but we haven’t had a chance to look for it.
We’re looking for him. But he knows where we are.
In recent years, the Special Collections & Archives Department has received several inquiries related to the whereabouts of the King Spud basketball trophy used in the 1960s-1970s for the basketball tournament between the University of Idaho and Idaho State University. Our archival team has searched high and low for the trophy but unfortunately, we still don’t know where it ended up. We don’t have it, the University of Idaho Athletics Department doesn’t have it, the Idaho State University Special Collections & Archives Department doesn’t have it, and the Idaho State University Athletics Department doesn’t have it.
Special Collections faculty and staff are extremely curious about where the trophy ended up. Sometimes we’ll hear a faint sound in the library basement that sounds like someone saying the words “King Spud” in a breeze.
Our computer systems often go down or become static when we mention his name in writing.
He knows we’re looking for him.
History of King Spud
In 1962, the Moscow Chamber of Commerce commission the King Spud trophy to be used for the annual basketball tournament between the University of Idaho and Idaho State University.1 The trophy went to the winning team each year through 1979 before being retired. While it was in use and after it was retired, it has drawn both criticism and a cult-like following from people who know about it.2
Want to find more interesting history like this? Check out the Digital Library of Idaho! The DLOI is a collection of digital libraries from across the state of Idaho, providing access points to the varied historical images, documents, and other media available to the public.