Two-Year College: 1927-1964


Legislature authorized 2-year college work at Fort Lewis.  It was to be known as a branch of Colorado State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (the former CSU).   Twenty seven students attended the fall session.

From 1927 until 1933, Fort Lewis was both a high school and a two-year college under the guide of Colorado A&M (later changed to Colorado State University).


Volunteer Fire department organized to protect campus buildings.  All male students were expected to be members.


Lory Hall completed as girls dormitory on Southwest corner of parade grounds.


112 college students and 47 high school students enrolled.


Fort Lewis High School closed.

Ninety students were enrolled in college courses.

Football team organized.


Dean Snyder died from an injury suffered in a fall.

Ernest Bader assumes Dean responsibilities.

Football field built south of campus.


Publication of Fort Lewis Collegian began.


A Fort Lewis Cadet, the student yearbook, first published.

A museum containing a large private collection of archaeological material, consisting of fine specimens of Basket-maker III, and Pueblo II and III pottery and artifacts were loaned to the institution.

Western Colorado Power Company lines reached Fort Lewis to replace generators in Power House.


Construction of Library under the direction of the Public Works Administration.  A grant from the Carnegie Foundation and money from the coal and gas royalties were used to buy books.  By 1940, over 6000 titles were in the Fort Lewis library.

Fort Lewis joined a junior college league and became known as the Fort Lewis A&M Beavers (later changed to Aggies).

Vocation Agriculture curriculum for boys between 18 and 25 that had not finished high school. 

1941-1945 (World War II)

No football team during war and gas rationing restricted the basketball team's travels.

Class days were shortened to allow students and faculty members to work in fields because of a shortage of labor.

Defense classes for vocational students in metal working, auto mechanics, woodworking and elementary electricity are conducted under the National Defense Plans.

Poultry houses were built by vocational students and old horse barn was rebuilt in 1941.

Only 9 men and 45 women were on campus in 1945.


266 students attended Fort Lewis.  This was more than twice the peak enrollment.

Apartment barracks were brought in from Fort Sumner, NM to house married GIs.

Veterans Institutional On-the Farm Program began.  Instructors made home visits and taught men and women about farm management, livestock, agronomy and record-keeping.   This government program paid all expenses and assisted 357 men and 4 women in the first year.


Dean Bader forced to resign.  One of his last pleas was for Fort Lewis to separate from Colorado A&M.

College officially becomes Fort Lewis A&M under the control of the State Board of Agriculture.

Charles McLain , longtime assistant dean, was appointed acting dean.

Fort Lewis Newspaper renamed "Smoke Signals" to signify their independence from Colorado A&M.


Charles Dale Rea chosen as first President of Fort Lewis A&M


Because of its high per student cost and distance from the Front Range, there were several attempts to close Fort Lewis A&M during this time.  Dr. Rea concluded that the costs would not be so high if the farm and the research were not figured in the college expenses.  Dan Thornton, a Gunnison ranger, was elected governor and helped to defeat the bill designed to close Fort Lewis A&M.

Daily bus service from Durango to the campus began.


Governor Thornton signs bill authorizing a Fort Lewis "branch" on Reservoir Hill located on east side of Durango.


Fort Lewis A&M moved to Durango.