Colorado today may be grappling with issues such as growth, but problems like that pale in comparison to the frontier era, when the fearsome Jack Slade, the volatile Doc Holliday, the elusive Butch Cassidy and dozens of other wild characters stormed and bellowed from one end of Colorado to the other.
To further explore those tempestuous days, the American West Program at Colorado State University will present "Wild and Wooly Colorado" by Roger McGrath, professor of the American Studies graduate program at Pepperdine and California State University-Channel Islands, at 7:30 p.m. June 26 in Room C146 Plant Sciences Building on campus.
McGrath, who grew up listening to frontier tales of California and the Old West, will discuss gunfights, bank robberies, stagecoach holdups, confidence games and daring escapes, all part of the madness and color of 1800s life in Colorado.
"Long before Telluride saw skiers, the mining camp saw Butch Cassidy escape with $20,000 from the San Miguel Valley Bank," McGrath said. "Years before Doc Holliday wielded a shotgun at the OK Corral, he was working as a faro dealer in Denver. A decade before Soapy Smith took control of the Alaskan port of Skagway, he was boss of the mining camp of Creede.
"For a half century, Colorado, with its boom-and-bust mining camps, outfitting centers and transportation hubs, was part of the frontier, providing a fertile ground for the Cassidys, Holidays, Smiths and their many fellow travelers to operate with reckless abandon."
Other dastardly bandits and villains will run wild during the 24th American West Program this summer on campus, with a visit by Belle Starr, the "Bandit Queen" of the West as portrayed by performance artist VanAnn Moore, highlighting the series this year.
Following is a schedule of events for the series. 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.
This year’s American West Program is supported by the Office of the Academic Vice President/Provost and by the Lilla B. Morgan Memorial Fund.
For more information, call Harry Rosenberg, history professor and coordinator of the American West series, at 491-5230.
- 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.