An offer from Department of Interior was accepted to establish a high school to carry on "experimental work along the lines of agriculture, horticulture, animal industry, household & mechanical arts". The bill reached the governor’s office January 25, 1911. By agreement with the federal government, "Indian pupils shall at all times be admitted to such school free of charge of tuition and on terms of equality with white pupils."

April 17, 1911: Resolution adopted for State of Colorado to take possession of Fort Lewis. The State of Colorado also received Teller Indian School in Grand Junction under this same bill.

The school would be a secondary school for any boy or girl who had completed 8 grades and was at least 15 years old. A demonstration farm would be set up to develop seeds that would grow at altitude.

George Snyder was appointed superintendent by State Board of Agriculture. The school advertised that tuition was free to Colorado residents and would cost $20 for out-of-staters; board, room and laundry would not be "over $20 per month."

June 18, 1911: Twenty pedigreed Holstein dairy cows arrive from the former Teller Indian School at Grand Junction.

On October 2, 1911 Fort Lewis High School opened with an enrollment over the 100 projected. However, in mid October a flood destroyed the headgate, flume, bridges and roads. Enrollment dropped below 20 students because many of them were needed at home to repair flood damage.


Records show that 6 large officer's residences, the hospital, three sheds and barns, an old jail building and a commissary building were left from the military fort era. From the Indian School days, a brick school building, two-story brick building used a dormitory, brick dining hall, a shop, a laundry building, an office building and frame residence. All of which were located on the East side of the parade grounds.

Military hospital continued to be used as girl's dorm.

February: First farmer’s 10-day short course sponsored for both men and women. Topics included conservation, crop production, animal diseases, cooking, home decorating and child care.

Men’s and women’s basketball teams began competing against local high schools

1912-1914 No girls were at school because enrollment could not justify expense.


Buildings were electrified using two boilers and a sawmill engine.


Telephone lines installed.

First graduating class consisted of Robert McCulloch and Orin Reeder.


Legislature approved a mill levy to support Fort Lewis.

In June Ernest H. Bader was hired as Director of Industrial Work and Farm Manager and began a career at Fort Lewis that spanned over 30 years.


Began 6 month summer session including Rural Teachers Training course to prepare young women for examination.

Colorado A&M established a branch experiment station at Fort Lewis, specializing in high-altitude agronomy and horticulture research.


Oct 1918-April 1919: School closed because of flu outbreak


Coal leases granted.

Attendance limited to 40 boys and 40 girls.

Gymnasium built on Southeast corner of old parade grounds.


Snyder hall was built using "good used bricks" purchased in Durango for $12 per thousand. Snyder served as the boys dormitory.

Dairy barn was built as an addition to the old stockade. The stockade became the dairy processing plant.

1923/24: 41 boys, 32 girls

Experimental orchard planted. Trees included cherries, plums, crabapples, and six varieties of apples.

First Farmers Institute (field day) to share information from agriculture research.


In addition to their courses in Agriculture, Household Mechanics and Teacher certification, Fort Lewis began offering courses for college credit and the nine-month session became standard.


County improved road (Wild cat canyon) to campus from Durango


Legislature authorized 2-year college work to begin in fall. Twenty seven students attended.


High school and college co-existed with 50-60 students enrolling in high school classes.