Fort Lewis College, Old Fort Lewis Campus – Hesperus CO


The main campus of Fort Lewis College was moved to Durango, Colorado in 1956, but before then it was located at this site, 16 miles southwest of Durango on what was originally a military site, then a boarding school for Native Americans, then a high school, then a two-year college. Since the 1950s, this has been the site of the San Juan Basin Research Center and is currently connected to Fort Lewis College once more as an auxiliary campus used for agricultural research among other purposes. During the 1930s, New Deal programs contributed important resources to the campus:

“Dean Bader faced the financial realities of running a school on an even tighter shoestring budget than his predecessor. He made ample use of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs with a primary goal of putting the students to work while improving the campus. One of Roosevelt’s first programs, the Federal Emergency Relief Act with the accompanying Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), was tapped in 1934 to pay workers to tear down old buildings, build a 200 foot ski run just west of the campus and erect a new fence along the highway. The FERA program ended in November, 1935 and most projects were transferred to the newly created Works Progress Administration (WPA). Bader received WPA funds to construct a new water pipeline. Bader also drew upon the Civilian Conservation Corps to address soil erosion problems and to partially rebuild the fence around the huge reserve.

Perhaps the largest lasting impact of the New Deal programs came from the library, which was built in 1939 using Public Works Administration (PWA) funds and supplemented by a three year grant from the Carnegie fund to add books to the school’s collection…

Designed by renowned Colorado architect Eugene Groves, the library held over six thousand volumes. The total cost for the project was just under $41,000 with $18,365 from the PWA program. Bader also tapped the PWA program to construct two faculty cottages.”

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Location Info

Colorado 140
Hesperus, CO

Coordinates: 37.231558, -108.051065

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