The Legendary Fremont Cannon: A Rivalry Unlike Any Other

Nevada football coach Ken Wilson considers the Nevada-UNLV game to be the best rivalry he's ever been a part of. At the heart of this fierce competition lies the legendary Fremont Cannon, a 545-pound prize that goes to the winner of the game. Let's delve into the captivating backstory of this monumental trophy and the rich history behind the Nevada-UNLV rivalry.

The Origin of the Fremont Cannon

Explore the fascinating history behind the creation of the Fremont Cannon and its ties to Captain John C. Fremont.

The Fremont Cannon is a replica of the howitzer that accompanied Captain John C. Fremont on his expedition through Oregon, Nevada, and California in the mid-1800s. Captain Fremont, who later became the first presidential candidate of the new Republican Party, left a lasting legacy with streets, schools, and hospitals named after him across the western U.S.

The cannon itself was dreamt up by Bill Ireland, a Nevada alum and UNLV's first football coach. It was built by the Nevada Mines Division of the Kennecott Copper Corp. and has since become a symbol of the intense rivalry between Nevada and UNLV.

The Weighty Significance of the Cannon

Discover why the Fremont Cannon holds the title of college football's largest and most expensive trophy.

Weighing in at a whopping 545 pounds, the Fremont Cannon is not only an impressive trophy but also the heaviest in college football. Built over half a century ago, it cost around $10,000 at the time, equivalent to $77,536 in today's currency.

When the Wolf Pack has possession of the cannon, it proudly resides in Cashell Fieldhouse, serving as a constant reminder of their triumph. However, when the Rebels claim victory, the cannon is painted in Rebel red, displayed as a symbol of their dominance.

Explosive Traditions: Firing the Cannon

Uncover the thrilling tradition of firing the cannon and the memorable moments it has created.

One of the most exciting aspects of the Fremont Cannon is the tradition of firing it after every score during the game. However, this tradition has led to some unexpected and comical moments.

Unintended Targets

Former Nevada football coach Chris Ault recalls a memorable incident where the cannon's paper wads hit one of their own players, Steve Bryant, right in the back. The smoke and bending jersey added to the unforgettable scene, creating lasting memories for all involved.

A Creative Transportation Solution

After a triumphant victory in 1978, the Wolf Pack players were determined to bring the cannon back to Reno. With no equipment truck available, they resorted to disassembling the cannon and carrying it onto the plane piece by piece. This incredible feat of determination and pride showcases the deep connection the players had with the cannon and their school.

The Evolution of the Rivalry

Trace the history of the Nevada-UNLV rivalry and the changes that have shaped it into a full-time affair.

The rivalry between Nevada and UNLV has undergone significant transformations over the years. In the 1980s, the teams played sporadically, with UNLV pushing to drop the series. However, thanks to the efforts of influential figures like Bob Cashell, the rivalry was reinstated on a full-time basis in 1989.

Since then, the annual battle for the Fremont Cannon has become even more intense, especially after both teams joined the Mountain West Conference in 2012. The rivalry now holds a special place in the hearts of fans and players alike, with each year's game carrying immense significance.

Mishaps and Secrets: Cannon Anecdotes

Unearth some intriguing stories surrounding the Fremont Cannon, from accidental damage to hidden inscriptions.

Throughout its storied history, the Fremont Cannon has seen its fair share of mishaps and hidden secrets.

Accidental Damage

After UNLV won the trophy in 2000, the cannon was dropped and damaged during the ensuing celebration. The UNLV athletic department quickly repaired it at a cost of approximately $1,500, ensuring the cannon's continued legacy.

A Secret Inscription

During the cannon's refurbishment, UNLV officials discovered an inscription that read, 'University of Notta Lotta Victories.' This playful jab at UNLV's struggles in the rivalry remains a mystery, as the identity of the person responsible for the inscription has never been revealed.


The Fremont Cannon is not just a trophy; it represents the deep-rooted rivalry between Nevada and UNLV. With its rich history, explosive traditions, and captivating anecdotes, the cannon has become a symbol of pride and determination for both teams. The annual battle for possession of this iconic prize ignites passion and fuels the competitive spirit of the players and fans alike. The Fremont Cannon stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of this fierce rivalry and the unbreakable bond between these two universities.

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