Pieces of the Past

By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)

The Colorado State University Alumni Association prides itself on sustaining the University’s traditions and honoring its past. One way we do this is through historical artifacts on display at the Iris & Michael Smith Alumni Center.

The Old Main Bell

The Old Main Bell hangs in the Jim and Nadine Henry Family Tower by the entrance.  “Comatose,” the cannon ROTC cadets fire during football games, will reside inside the Center’s Mindock Hall during the offseason. Other artifacts – both ordinary and extraordinary – inside the Center also have a story to tell about who we are.

An ROTC sword usually displayed in the executive director’s office has moved to new exhibit cases in Mindock Hall. Six months after Congress authorized the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in 1917, the College started an Army ROTC program. Cadets wore swords with military dress uniforms for parades, ROTC events, and even military balls. This sword was awarded to Cadet Arthur B. Colliflower (B.S., ’31) as the 1929-30 Honor Junior.

A framed Aggie letter jacket is on display in an office. The jacket belonged to Ren Jensen (B.S., ’59), who was a member of the men’s basketball team from 1954 to 1958 and remains a devoted alumnus and fan.

A Model T, sporting CSU colors, carried dignitaries in the Homecoming Parade for a number of years. The car was built in 1923, the year Aggie students constructed the original A on the foothills above Fort Collins. The Model T now has a place of honor in the Center, with several other pieces of our past displayed inside.

Saddle used by alumnus and WWII veteran Tom Kuiper
Saddle used by alumnus and WWII veteran Tom Kuiper at the first College National Finals Rodeo in 1949. Donated by Helen Gray.

A saddle, displayed in the rear of the Model T, honors our rodeo history. The Aggies held their first collegiate rodeo in 1922. In 1950, the Rodeo Club started the Skyline Stampede, which continues to this day. Thomas Kuiper (B.S.,’50) received this saddle when he was named All-Round Colorado A&M rodeo performer in 1949.

An Aggie letter blanket, now draped over the seat of the Model T, also honors our sports history. The blanket belonged to Don (B.S., ’50) and Elaine (B.S.,’53) Dobler. Don played on the men’s basketball team and was three-time all-conference. He later served as the first dean of the College of Business.

display case
Display cases add a tangible dimension to wall panels and interactive touch screen content in the Iris & Michael Smith Alumni Center.

A glass milk jug joins the ROTC sword in a display case in Mindock Hall. Our dairy program dates back to the late 1800s. For many decades the program included a dairy herd, farm, and processing plant. Although dairy instruction and research remain an important part of the Department of Animal Sciences, the University disbanded the dairy herd and related facilities in 1989.

As another Homecoming & Family Weekend approaches, it’s appropriate to recognize the significance of these pieces of our past, and recognize all you Aggies and Rams who made our history!

When you visit the Iris & Michael Smith Alumni Center, you can celebrate our shared history by viewing these artifacts, thumbing through the Silver Spruce yearbook collection, and scrolling through stories on the touch screens.