Join us for our FREE Gala Picnic!

Picnic at the Old Fort
Picnic at the Old Fort, ca 1930. Courtesy, La Plata County Historical Society

We are welcoming you back to live presentations with a Gala Picnic at the Old Fort Lewis in Hesperus, Colorado.

Date: Thursday, September 8th, 3:00 to 8:00 pm


  • 3:00 to 4:00 — Guided tours of the Old Fort
  • 4:00 to 5:00 — Presentation #1 by Beth LaShell, Director
  • 5:30 to 6:30 — Dinner break - Bring your own dinner/picnic
  • 6:30 to 7:30 — Presentation #2 by Majel Boxer

What you should bring:

  • There are a limited number of picnic tables, so bring your own chairs and table, or a picnic blanket.
  • Bring your own food and drinks.
  • Proof of covid vaccinations is required and must be shown at the gate.

Where:  The Old Fort, 18683 SH-140


From Durango - Option 1

  • Drive 12 miles west on US160 to Hesperus
  • Turn LEFT (south on CR140)
  • Drive 4 miles. The Old Fort is on the right. 

From Durango - Option 2

  • Drive 2 miles west on US160
  • Turn LEFT (southwest) on CR141 (Wildcat Canyon Road)
  • Drive 11 miles
  • Turn RIGHT (north) at the intersection with CR140
  • Drive 3 miles. The Old Fort is on the left. 


The History of Old Fort Lewis at Hesperus
Beth LaShell, Director of the Old Fort

Beth LaShellFort Lewis was established as an Army Post in 1880. Fourteen miles west of Durango it was intended for the protection of southern and western Colorado. It was decommissioned in 1891 and converted to a federal, off-reservation Indian boarding school. In 1911 an agricultural and mechanics high school was established under the jurisdiction of the Colorado A&M (present CSU) where students studied agriculture, forestry, engineering, veterinary science and home economics. In 1956 Fort Lewis College moved to its present location atop Reservoir Hill overlooking Durango. Beth LaShell, Director of the Old Fort, will discuss its history and its current mission to serve both students and the Community.

Fort Lewis Indian School, 1892 to 1910
Majel Boxer, FLC Associate Professor of Native American and Indigenous Studies

Majel BoxerBeginning in 1892, Fort Lewis Indian School operated as an off-reservation boarding school designed to assimilate Indigenous children through vocational training and “Americanized” curriculum. Children from the surrounding Ute, Navajo, Apache, and Pueblo communities comprised the majority of enrolled students. Majel Boxer, FLC Associate Professor of Native American and Indigenous Studies, will discuss this period of time when the Indian school operated in Breen, Colorado, and the experiences Indigenous students, parents, and communities had as compulsory boarding school education brought them together at Fort Lewis Indian school.