Rough Day on the Interstate? Relax with a Ride Through the Wild Frontier at Colorado State University

Think your commute on Interstate 25 is a nightmare of snarled traffic? In the 1800s, a stagecoach or train ride could well have cost you everything you owned – and possibly your life.

Find out more during the American West Program’s presentation of "Scoundrels and Scofflaws: Early Crime in Colorado" at Colorado State University on June 12. The talk, by Clark Secrest from the Colorado Historical Society, begins at 7:30 p.m. in Room C146 Plant Sciences Building on campus.

Secrest, a reporter, columnist and editor at the Denver Post from 1963-87 and editor of "Colorado Heritage" magazine since 1990, will explore selected episodes of lawlessness in and around early Colorado. Villains will include the Reynolds boys, who ambushed stagecoaches in the Fairplay area; the train-robbing McCoy gang who headquartered near Cotopaxi; the dangerous gunfighter Jack Slade; the "bloody Espinosas," who 150 years after the fact are still Colorado’s record-holding serial murderers; various vigilantes who practiced next-day justice; and train robber Black Jack Ketchum, whose unusual experience on the gallows earned his way into the history books.

Other nefarious bandits, train robbers, rascals and villains will run wild during the 24th American West Program this summer on campus. A visit by Belle Starr, the "Bandit Queen" of the West as portrayed by VanAnn Moore, a performance artist from New Mexico, will highlight the series this year.

Following is a schedule of events for the American West Program. All talks begin at 7:30 p.m. in Room C146 Plant Sciences Building except for the July 24 program, which takes place in the Lory Student Center Theatre. All events are free and open to the public.

For more information, call Harry Rosenberg, history professor and coordinator of the American West series, at 491-5230.

  • June 12 – "Scoundrels and Scofflaws: Early Crime in Colorado," Clark Secrest, Colorado Historical Society, Denver.
  • June 19 – "Jesse James Was My Neighbor," Gary Chilcote, St. Joseph, Mo.
  • June 26 – "Wild and Wooly Colorado," Roger McGrath, professor of American studies, Pepperdine and California State University-Channel Islands.
  • July 3 – "The Cultural Borders of the Outlaw," John-Michael Rivera, English department, University of Colorado-Boulder.
  • July 10 – "Billy the Kid and Wyatt Earp: What Did They Actually Do to Deserve Their Fame?" Bob Boze Bell, Cave Creek, Ariz.
  • July 17 – "An Ear in His Pocket – The Life of Jack Slade," Kenneth Jessen, Loveland, Colo.
  • July 24 – "Belle Starr, the Lady Bandit," VanAnn Moore, Belen, N.M., accompanied by Mark Zwillig, Denver. The performance takes place in the Lory Student Center Theatre.
  • July 31 – "No God West of Fort Smith: The Outlaws of the Indian Territory," Garrick Bailey, Department of Anthropology, University of Tulsa, Okla.