2017 Sessions

I Am Not a Savage: Lakota Performers in Wild West Shows

–Steve Friesen, Director (soon to be retired!), Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave. Author of several books including “Buffalo Bill: Scout, Showman, Visionary” and most recently “Lakota Performers in Europe: Their Culture and the Artifacts They Left Behind.”

In the latter 19th and early 20th century, US government policy was aimed at eliminating the Lakota Indian culture. The concept was “kill the Indian, save the man.” Wild west shows like that of Buffalo Bill offered an alternative way, where the Lakotas could show off and preserve their culture, demonstrating that it was valid and they were not “savages.” This presentation will examine that culture and the lives of the “oskate wicasa,” those who performed.


Serving America while Serving Time

–Kori Thompson, adjunct US History professor at two community colleges in Kansas

As the U.S. came closer to entering World War I, men volunteered for service, including six inmates from the Kansas State Industrial Reformatory. Many people questioned their morality and ability to serve. This presentation tells the story of these men and why, in 1918, the Kansas adjutant general instructed the draft boards and recruitment offices to induct them into service. Nearly 250 inmates and former inmates were either drafted or enlisted and served in some capacity during World War I, and some even died in combat.


American Expeditionary Force, 1917

–Don Cygan, Historian, Author, Professor

The U.S. created the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) to send to France in 1917. This presentation looks at the make-up of the AEF, the enormous political and social problems of creating such a military force, some of the leading individuals, original items from the period, and the legacy that the AEF passed on to the modern US military system.


Saving Our Vanishing Railroad Heritage

–James Jordan, President, Rocky Mountain Railroad Heritage Society

The RMRHS is working to save over 20 endangered structures (in Colorado), rolling stock, and misc. railroad items of a historic nature from destruction in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico. Among them are the depots in Calhan, Las Animas, Craig, Loveland, Trinchere, the pump house in Kit Carson, the freight house/scale house in Brighton, Julesburg’s original depot, Daly’s Depot, the section house in Sargent, what’s left of the depot in Jarasso, and many other locations in the state. With the strong support of more than 20 other in-kind associations, we are the vanguard in North America working to rescue these valued icons.


Sisters of Courage: The Impact of Historical Events in the 19th Century on the Harbison Family

–Dave Lively, Local historian and Certified tour guide and operator of Lively Tours and Talks

“Sisters of Courage” follows the Harbison family through the turmoil of the last half of the 19th century. The Civil War, Westward Expansion, the Panic of 1893 are all well known historical events that take on new meaning with this story of their impact on a single family. Buffeted by the winds of national events, the family starts their life over yet again as the daughters homesteaded together in a peaceful mountain valley. Walk with them from Denver as they chose to operate a dairy ranch to supply fresh milk to the expanding Grand Lake population. Discover how their ranch becomes the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.


La Santa Muerte: A Mexican Saint of Lost Causes

–Christine Whittington, Academic librarian at Colorado Mountain College Leadville Campus

Santa Muerte is a Mexican folk saint represented by a female skeletal figure, often holding a globe, scythe, and scale. Santa Muerte has become ubiquitous in Mexico and increasingly common among Mexican immigrants in the United States.  Followers petition Santa Muerte for protection in difficult situations and for assistance in securing love, economic success, and health. Followers of Santa Muerte have also been associated, especially by the media, with drug cartels and individuals on the margins of society.


Skiing Off to War

–Thomas Duhs, Retired Colonel of Marines-30 years of service 1977-2008. Extensive cold weather and mountain operations experience.

The 10th Mountain Division trained at Camp Hale, near Leadville Colorado from Nov 1942 to June 1944. The only mountain division was unique in how the men were recruited, trained, and employed in Italy to end the war in May 1945. After the war these troops had an effect on skiing as well.


Auschwitz #34207: The Joe Rubinstein Story

–Nancy Sprowell Geise, Author and Speaker

From the ashes of his life, Joe Rubinstein would find a way rise above the atrocities that occurred to him. Barefooted when he was taken by the Nazis in his home in Radom, Poland, he would become one of New York’s’ leading shoe designers. While the Nazis took everything else, they were unable to take Joe’s love of life, his affection for others, and his unassailable joy. His is a story of unconquerable courage and discovering light in the darkest of places. Joe, age 96, resides in Fort Collins, Colorado.

**Update: Nancy is presenting Joe’s story at Auschwitz on August 7th and she will share their response with us at History Camp.**


General Iron Works, Englewood, CO

–Doug Cohn, Member of Englewood Historic Preservation Society & Rocky Mountain Railroad Heritage Society

Five engineering companies decided to create a foundry that could make things for all five companies. The first decision was to have the employees own the company. Every time they got a pay check, they got shares of stock. The had more than 300 patents during their lifetime and created many amazing things we still use today. Stearns Roger was the main engineering company. They did fresh water drilling, oil and gas, metal and coal mining, agriculture, fresh and waste water treatment, and electric plant construction. One tease: In 1928 a Middle Eastern country needed more fresh water. They had lots of ocean, not enough fresh water. Could fresh water be extracted from the ocean? General Iron invented the large scale desalination technology and built plants in several places.


Why Here? History and Archaeology at Fort Massachusetts, New Mexico Territory

–Macy Franken, Expedition Historian for Fort Massachusetts Archaeological Field School

Fort Massachusetts was the first US military post in what would become the state of Colorado, established in 1852 following the end of the Mexican-American War. Military officials who inspected the post in 1853 announced that the post was in entirely the wrong place, and the location has made even less sense to modern archaeologists. The fact is, Fort Massachusetts is in the middle of nowhere by almost anyone’s standards. So why put a fort here in the first place?


Clear Creek County Adventure Trails

–Ron Runoff, Charter member of Ghost Town Club of Colorado, Docent at Limon Heritage Museum

Clear Creek County, Colorado, where the first major gold discovery was made, is filled with history and some of Colorado’s grandest scenery. This PhotoMusical Adventure will cover what the county offers today, ride the Georgetown Loop Railroad, visit ghost towns and back-pack to alpine wilderness and explore the history behind each place.


Selling the City of Sunshine: Colorado Springs as America’s “Greatest Sanitarium”

–Leah Davis Witherow, Curator of History & Archivist for the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum

From its founding in 1871, local boosters advertised Colorado Springs as a premier health destination for the treatment of consumption and “lung troubles,” among other maladies. Through photographs, pamphlets and a plethora of publications, they boasted of over 300 days of sunshine per year and “100% aseptic air.” The region’s greatest asset-turned-industry was its stunning scenery, abundant sunshine and mild climate. Come to this illustrated talk to learn more about how Colorado Springs marketed its scenery and climate so successfully.


Base Ball in the 18th and 19th Centuries: History of the Game and Challenges of Re-enacting for a Modern Audience

–Roger P Hadix, Author of Baseball in Colorado Springs; Player with Colorado Vintage Base Ball Association

Base ball, the Great American Pastime, dates back to at least the 1700s. It has had many names and versions but the game we associate with today was created by Abner Doubleday in 1839 from Rounders and Cricket. This session will explore the roots of the game into the Gilded Age.

We’ll also discuss the challenges that today’s re-creators face in presenting an historically accurate game that is engaging and entertaining for the fans.


Molly Brown – Myth Verses Reality

–Janet Kalstrom; Volunteer at Molly Brown House Museum

Who was the real Molly Brown?  Did she really float down the Colorado River and end up in Leadville?  Did she work in a saloon in Leadville as a piano playing girl?  Did she march for women’s and miners rights?  Did she really run for congress in Colorado three times?  Why was she considered a heroine of Titanic?  To find out – come listen to Margaret “Molly” Brown tell you herself.

Janet has been telling Margaret “Molly” Brown’s story locally and internationally over the last seven years.  She is passionate about the legend of Margaret “Molly” Brown and loves to tell her story from all aspects of her life.


A Stranger To It’s Laws: LGBT People and Laws of Colorado

–David Duffield; Coordinator and Co-founder of the Colorado LGBT History Project

This presentation will look at the history of sodomy, anti-cross dressing, anti-discrimination, and finally transgender laws in Colorado from 1860 to roughly 1980. We will overview the history of struggles for LGBT people in Colorado including statutes from Denver Municipal Code from 1886 to 1974, anti-sodomy laws and trials from 1924 – 1974, and finally anti-discrimination laws from 1980.


Live and Let Live: A Chicago Alderman comes West

–Stephanie Prochaska; Assistant Archivist at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum

Chicago Alderman “Bathhouse” John Coughlin was not only a notorious politician, but also a poet, rancher, minor league baseball team and race horse owner, and a proprietor of a zoo. For over a decade, Bathhouse John called the Pikes Peak Region his summer home and playground. He built a zoological and amusement park on his property which entertained thousands. His time in Colorado was filled with ambition, involved a little gambling, and a drunken elephant.


The Lasting Legacy of Western Women

–Jamie Melissa Wilms; Director of Education at the Molly Brown House Museum

Western Women are often overlooked in history books or given a short paragraph of mention. This presentation will explore the women who helped to shape the west, forged a path for their future daughters, and left a lasting legacy on generations to follow. Explore the history of the strong women who helped to shape the west.


The Summit Springs Battle: Dispelling Myths about the Indian Wars

–George Koukeas; Freelance Writer, Researcher and Public Speaker

The so-called “Indian Wars” between the US Government and the Indians are  complex. Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians attacked frontier settlements and kidnapped Susanna Alderdice and Maria Wiechel.  Buffalo Bill Cody was a leader of the Scouts for the 5th Cavalry’s rescue effort and the resulting battle.  The significance of the Summit Springs Battle and lessons learned about the Indian Wars are still pertinent today as we sort out the myths about the Indian Wars.


Medallic Remembrances of World War I

–Douglas Mudd; Curator/Museum Director, ANA Money Museum

Called “The Great War” and more optimistically “The War to End All Wars,” World War I was a pivotal event that changed the world’s political map and the fabric of European civilization. More than 17 million people perished, but the consequences extended beyond casualties and physical damage. This talk will discuss the history of World War I using medals, decorations, coins and paper currency. It is based on the exhibit currently on display at the American Numismatic Association Money Museum in Colorado Springs.


Common Historical Myths, Fact or Fiction

–Elizabeth Nosek; owner of iCurate4u and Curator of Education and Exhibits at Colorado Railroad Museum

Join Elizabeth as she uses common everyday objects to examine the truth behind some of our favorite historical “facts”. Were people really shorter? Did most women really die from catching their skirts on fire? Just how simple was life back then? These are just a few of the questions we will explore in this session.


The ABC’s of Genealogy

–Lori Collins; President of the Colorado Genealogical Society/Computer Interest Group

Ever feel like you’re stuck and can’t find that elusive aunt or great-great grandfather? In this session we’ll have tips on finding who you’re looking for. We’ll also discuss where to find the best places in Colorado to research your genealogy/family history. Come learn about the vast resources available to you.


A Drive Through Europe: American Vehicles of WWII

–Dan Davidson; Commander of The Forty Thieves, Historian, Collector and Restorer

By May of 1945, Germany was being crushed under the wait of the American industrial machine, vehicles, tanks, aircraft, bombs, shells, and small arms ammo were being stock piled for the drive to Berlin and beyond. This presentation will look at one aspect of the American industrial machine, vehicle production and the usage in combat. Vehicles made from 1940 through 1945. The good, the bad and the unusual. Designs that were trend setting and designs that were forgotten in time. We will also look at why the American vehicles were superior to their German counter parts and why early decisions made by Generals affected the prolonging of the war in Europe.


Pikes Peak Regional Historic Floods

–John E Putnam; Delegate to the Colorado Council of Genealogical Societies, Historian

The Pikes Peak Region experiences periodic flooding (e.g. Pueblo 1921 and Colorado Springs 1935 & 1965 & 1999; Manitou Springs 1999 & 2013) with catastrophic losses of life and property. After each episode, people and their governmental units face recovery from the instant disaster as well as needing to plan techniques to prevent similar effects in future flood disasters. This presentation will explore how people and government addressed each and used the disaster as a tool to make their lives and those of their descendants less exposed to a repeat of future flood disasters through disaster planning, building codes, flood control projects, other mitigation techniques, and insurance.


The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla

–Tom Keller; Historian, Public Speaker, Member of the Board of Directors for the Lakewood Historical Society

Nikola Tesla is best known for his ground-breaking inventions and contributions in the fields of electricity and physics which helped usher in the Second Industrial Revolution in the early 20th Century. His patents and theoretical work formed the basis for modern Alternating Current electricity and many other achievements. Tesla is the unsung hero of our modern age.


Stories of Colorado Past

–Denise Rucks; certified Spellbinders Storyteller, retired teacher

The history of Colorado told through stories of pioneers, gold miners, homesteaders and more. In our fast paced, technologically driven age, storytelling is a form of communication and connection that our society is hungry for, passing on enduring concepts and wisdom. Come and enjoy these legends told in a way that will leave you asking for more.


The Richest Square Mile on Earth – The Mines, Mills and Railroads of Gilpin County

–Mark Baldwin; Professor of Practice, Colorado School of Mines

In April 1859, John H Gregory found gold in what is now called Gregory Gulch between what would become Black Hawk and Central City. By the summer of 1860, over 60 mills, 30 arrastras, and over 100 mines had been established in and above Black Hawk and Central City. The railroads soon followed, both the narrow gauge Colorado Central and the very, very narrow gauge Gilpin Tramway. This presentation will examine those mines, mills and especially the railroads. Time permitting, we will also examine a 3D computer model representing the area in 1905 and how such a tool can be used for historic research.


Nordestino Migration to the Amazon city of Santarem

–Timothy Vilgiate; History Masters student at UCCS

In World War II, thousands of Northeastern migrants, called nordestinos, were moved from the Northeast of Brazil to the Amazon in order to harvest rubber. Northeastern migration came to be seen as a way for the Brazilian government to encourage development along the Amazon and to secure it from foreign interests. The Northeastern poor viewed migration as one of many available community survival strategies. In the end, they came to constitute a sizeable portion of the business community in Santarem. Communities of those native to Santarem viewed this project of national integration as a continuation of colonial expansion into the Amazon.


Ironclads Beware! The Story of the CSS Hunley

–Mark Bosler; Docent and Blacksmith at Four Mile Historic Park

On February 17, 1864 Naval Warfare changed once again: not Ironclad against Ironclad but a different type of naval engagement. Naval ships only had to worry about dangers upon the seas, but on that day it became below the seas. Come and learn how the Confederate States of America built a ship that could submerge below the sea and sink a United States of America warship. This vessel was a submarine and it’s name was the CSS H.L. Hunley. Join Historic Interpreter Mark Bosler of Four Mile Historic Park on a journey under Southern Seas!


Black Amusement Parks

–David Forsyth; Historian and Author

Prior to 1964, most amusement parks in the United States were segregated. Occasionally white parks would allow black customers to have free reign over the parks for a week or two after the regular season had ended, but beginning the late 1910s, though, black businessmen began building black amusement parks in various parts of the United States. This presentation will explain where these parks were built, which were some of the most popular parks, why they closed, and why researching them is difficult.


Grave Matters: All Things Cemetery

–Patricia Carmody; Co-founder/Executive Director of the Colorado Historic Cemetery Association

The word cemetery (from Greek κοιμητήριον, “sleeping place”) indicates land that is specifically designated as a burial ground. All human cultures studied have several things in common concerning their death rituals, with a sacred place for their dead among the most important of all. Grave Matters will look at various types of cemeteries in the US including: graveyards, rural, family, town, military and park cemeteries, as well as some of the symbolism found at these historic sites.