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Tesoro Historic Lecture Series 2022/2023

2022 -2023 Completed Lectures

Tesoro’s Historic Lecture Series features renowned scholars, historians, and authors in the field of 19th Century American Western History. 

Past Lectures – Watch Now on Facebook>

Remembering Sand Creek Massacre

Presenter: Mr. George Curtis Levi

As a Sand Creek Descendent on both sides of his family, he uses art as a tool to help tell the true history of the Cheyenne and Arapaho People and also of the many different aspects of the times of Hestano (the people) in Colorado.

The Night the Stars Fell

Presenter: Mr. Ron Hranac

Former Denver Astronomical Society President, Ron Hranac, will discuss “What is a meteor?” His lecture comes at the same time as the early meteor shower appeared at Bent’s Fort during the Leonid meteor shower. Thousands of meteors blazed through the night and into the morning of November 12, 1833, as the entire world watched one of the most spectacular sights of human history. The event had a significant impact on the Plains Indians who believed this might signal the end of the world. After dinner, enjoy looking at the stars through 19th century and modern telescopes in the Fort’s Courtyard, courtesy of the Denver Astronomical Society.

Pandemics on the Santa Fe Trail

Presenter: Mr. John Steinle

Throughout the 19th Century, successive pandemics engulfed travelers and tribes along the Santa Fe Trail. Malaria, smallpox and cholera were among the major killers. Medical science, in a transitional era between ancient theories and modern medical practice, struggled to cope with these infectious diseases. Inoculation, vaccination, and the use of quinine helped but did not eliminate the threat of agonizing death. John Steinle’s program, “Most All Must Perish: Pandemics of the Santa Fe Trail”, uses period paintings, drawings, and photographs to paint a graphic picture of this crucial time in American medical history, including the heroes who saved thousands of lives.

Colorado: A Liquid History and Tavern Guide

Presenter: Dr. Tom Noel

“Colorado: A Liquid History & Tavern Guide” explores the Highest State’s most famous and notorious taverns ever since the 1860 baby town of Denver hosted 38 saloons. Investigating all 500 plus Denver taverns and hundreds more outstate, Dr. Colorado found saloons served as an astonishing variety of functions from bordellos to churches, from union halls to
voting hubs.

The Earth Is All That Lasts: Some Things I Hated To Leave Out Of My Book But Did

Presenter: Mr. Mark Lee Gardner

In writing a book of nonfiction, an author must constantly make hard choices on what information to include and exclude. A book can have only so many pages, and a reader will navigate only so many “side trips” in a narrative (what book reviewers refer to as “tangential material”) before putting the book down never to be retrieved. In writing my dual biography of the great Lakota leaders Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, I was faced with an abundance of primary source material, and there were numerous things – fascinating vignettes, great quotes, rare photos – that I decided to leave behind, that simply didn’t work. This presentation will give a few examples and my reasons for not including them in the finished manuscript.

Writing Kit Carson: Fallen Heroes in a Changing West

Presenter: Dr. Susan Lee Johnson

Johnson’s multilayered biography reveals the nature of relationships between women historians and male historical subjects and between history buffs and professional historians. It explores the practice of history in the context of everyday life, the seductions of gender in the context of racialized power, and the strange contours of twentieth-century relationships predicated on nineteenth-century pasts. On the surface, it tells a story of lives tangled across generation and geography. Underneath run probing questions about how we know about the past and how that knowledge is shaped by the conditions of our knowing.

Saving Yellowstone:
The Creation of a National Icon

Presenter: Dr. Megan Kate Nelson

Historian and author Megan Kate Nelson draws on her recent book, Saving Yellowstone: Exploration and Preservation in Reconstruction America, as she describes Yellowstone’s journey from crossroads of Indigenous trade and travel to the world’s first national park. Dr. Nelson will discuss the roots of the national park idea, the first scientific expedition to Yellowstone in 1871, and the debates around the passage of the Yellowstone Act in 1872, which created the park. Situating this story in the history of the Reconstruction period, Dr. Nelson will introduce lecture attendees to three men who pursued their own agendas in Yellowstone at this moment: scientist-explorer Ferdinand Hayden, investment banker Jay Cooke, and Hunkpapa Lakota chief Sitting Bull.

The Buffalo Soldiers: A Colorado Connection and More

Presenter: Dr. John P. Langellier

A preeminent authority in U.S. military history, Langellier delves into the role played by the African American Buffalo Soldiers and the contributions made in opening the West. He will focus on the Buffalo Soldiers in Colorado in his presentation.

How Denver Became a Port

Presenter: Ms. Caroline Bennet

Denver is certainly not the first city that comes to mind when one hears “port.” In fact, it may be the last. The word conjures images of teeming waterways, colossal ships, and bustling piers. However, access to water need not define “ports.” Fundamentally, port cities are places through which commodities and people can travel. They are centers for commerce, the interaction of diverse people and cultures, and the exchange of ideas and power.

“How Denver Become a Port” explores the origins of movement, commerce, and exchange that stimulated the town’s early formation. It tracks the legacy of these origins in rail, telegraph, and tramway developments at the turn of the twentieth century. Finally, it investigates the advent of interstate and air travel that transformed the city of Denver into a vast metropolitan area.

This history provides a lens for understanding how Denver developed as a gateway to the West. It explains how trade and commerce transformed one of the United States’ most isolated landscapes into a center of globalization.