The 1969 Bonfire (right) at Texas A&M University was the tallest bonfire ever built. Reaching nearly 110 feet into the air, it was taller than most current buildings on campus, and in 1969 it was the tallest structure on campus. In the 1940s, when Universal Studios produced the film about Texas A&M, “We’ve Never Been Licked,” they built a model bonfire in a teepee shape, unlike the previous student designs which were essentially large piles of wooden things, including dorm furniture in 1912. Therefore, in 1942, the design officially became the teepee shape that culminated in the 110-foot 1969 Bonfire.
For reference, the 1969 Bonfire stretched well above the Administration building, the Memorial Student Center and was nearly as high as Rudder Tower. It would have reached well into the third section of the remodeled Kyle Field and would have nearly reached to the top of the Joe C. Richardson Jr. building.
The only building decidedly taller would have been the David G. Eller Oceanography & Meteorology Building, which towers above campus at 15 stories tall. It is the highest point between Houston and Dallas. According to Sean Stroyick, Eller O&M building procter, no taller buildings can be built in that stretch to allow the meteorological observatory on the 15th floor an unobstructed view of the surrounding area. So even if Bonfire could ever have been built that high, it wouldn’t have been allowed to stand.
However, that never happened because after the 1969 Bonfire, the university set a height limit of 55 feet on future Bonfires (left) out of concern for the surrounding buildings, as Bonfire posed a serious fire hazard at that height. Later Bonfires all approached this limit, which would still reach to the fourth floor of most buildings.