While the presentation of the trophy dates back 76 years, the bucket itself is more than 100 years old.
The bucket was found, in a bad state of repair and covered with moss and mold, on the old Bruner farm between Kent and Hanover in Southern Indiana, after the Chicago alumni groups of both Purdue and Indiana enthusiastically decided in 1925 that a traditional trophy for the winner of the gridiron clash would be appropriate.
Russell Gray of Purdue and Dr. Clarence Jones of Indiana were given the task of finding a suitable trophy. They recommended that "an old oaken bucket would be a most typical trophy from this state and should be taken from a well somewhere in Indiana."
Purdue’s Fritz Ernst and Whiley J. Huddle of Indiana found the historical bucket and it is said that General Morgan’s command used it during a jaunt through Indiana during the Civil War. It has had a no less exciting history since 1935, several times having been kidnapped by partisans from both schools — a couple of times missing so long that it was given up as lost, only to turn up mysteriously just before or after the annual game.
The bucket was presented as a prize by the late George Ade, distinguished humorist from Purdue, and the late Harry Kurrie, then president of the Monon Railroad, representing Indiana.
The first game ended in a 0-0 tie, resulting in the “I-P” link attached to the bucket. Since then, there have been 52 “P” links, 25 “I” links and two additional “I-P” links attached to the chain. Purdue won the 2004 meeting 63-24 in West Lafayette, setting a Big Ten record with 763 yards of total offense.