Each year, Tesoro Cultural Center hosts renowned scholars, historians and authors to share their expertise on topics pertaining to the early 19th century American West. Tesoro’s Historic Lecture Series is supported by the Western History Department at Yale University and runs October 12 through April 26. There are several ways to watch each lecturer and experience each lecture weekend: an evening lecture accompanied by dinner at The Fort; a FREE afternoon session at the Denver Central Library; or a FREE late afternoon lecture at various South Suburban Parks & Recreation Center locations.
South Suburban Recreational Center lectures are FREE and open to the public and take place on Saturday afternoons; registration is required through their website. Denver Central Library lectures on Sunday afternoons are FREE and offered on the building’s fifth level in the Gates Reading Room.
Sunday evening dinner lectures at The Fort begin at 6 p.m., and tickets cost $68 for non-Tesoro members and $60 for members. Each dinner lecture at The Fort includes a four-course, prix fixe dinner, including a complimentary glass of house wine during the lecture and with dinner.
“The Night The Stars Fell” — Dinner Only Option at The Fort
Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019 at 6 p.m., The Fort (19192 Hwy. 8, Morrison)
On Nov. 27, 1833, thousands of meteors showered the sky of North America. To the American Indians, it appeared as though the stars were falling out of the heavens. Join Dr. Steven Lee and Ms. Bethany Williams as they explore this natural phenomenon – today known as the Leonid Meteor Shower – from scientific and cultural perspectives. The Denver Astronomical Society will set up telescopes in The Fort’s courtyard so guests may view the night sky.
“Black Cowboys in the American West”
Saturday, Jan. 4 at 4 p.m., Buck Recreation Center (2004 W. Powers Ave., Littleton)
Sunday, Jan. 5 at 2 p.m., Denver Central Library (10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy., 5th Floor, Denver)
Sunday, Jan. 5 at 6 p.m., The Fort (19192 Hwy. 8, Morrison)
Who were the black cowboys? Presenter Michael “Cowboy Mike” Searles explains: They were drovers, foremen, fiddlers, cowpunchers, cattle rustlers, cooks and singers. They worked as wranglers, riders, ropers, bulldoggers and bronc busters. They came from varied backgrounds – some grew up in slavery, while free men often got their start in Texas and Mexico.
Most who joined the long trail drives were men, but black women also rode and worked on western ranches and farms. The first overview of the subject in more than fifty years, Black Cowboys in the American West surveys the life and work of these cattle drivers from the years before the Civil War through the turn of the twentieth century.
“Boom and Bust Colorado”
Saturday, Jan. 18 at 4 p.m., The Lone Tree Hub (8827 Lone Tree Pkwy., Lone Tree)
Sunday, Jan. 19 at 2 p.m., Denver Central Library (10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy., 5th Floor, Denver)
Sunday, Jan. 19 at 6 p.m., The Fort (19192 Hwy. 8, Morrison)
State Historian Tom “Dr. Colorado” Noel will pictorially scrutinize Colorado’s ups and downs, from the Gold and Silver booms and busts to the current explosion in pot shops, brewpubs and craft breweries. What goes up, Tom will remind us, must come down.
“Penitentes in the American Southwest”
Saturday, March 7 at 4 p.m., Buck Recreation Center (2004 W. Powers Ave., Littleton)
Sunday, March 8 at 2 p.m., Denver Public Library (10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy., 5th Floor, Denver)
Sunday, March 8 at 6 p.m., The Fort (19192 Hwy. 8, Morrison)
This lecture will explore the history and origins of the Penitente Brotherhood of colonial New Mexico. Presenter Dr. Charles Carrillo will also dispel myths about the organization and provide an understanding of La Cofradía de Nuesto Padre Jesús Nazareno, the Confraternity of Our Father Jesus of the Nazarene.
“Music of the Frontier and the Rio Grande” — Dinner Only Option
Sunday, March 15, 2019 at 6 p.m., The Fort (19192 Hwy. 8, Morrison)
Only offered as a Sunday night dinner lecture, the evening will be filled with music, laughter and an insight into the themes, sounds, and evolution of the music that filled the camps, dance halls, concert halls, and taverns in the West.
“Much Ado About Custer: Rethinking the Indian Wars”
Saturday, April 18 at 4 p.m., The Lone Tree Hub (8827 Lone Tree Pkwy., Lone Tree)
Sunday, April 19 at 2 p.m., Denver Public Library (10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy., 5th Floor, Denver)
Sunday, April 19 at 6 p.m., The Fort (19192 Hwy. 8, Morrison)
For decades, the fight for the American West has fascinated writers and readers alike. The mystery of Lt. Col. George A. Custer’s death, the lives of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, and the catastrophe at Wounded Knee have been too powerful to resist.
Yet it turns out that the United States Army’s unpublished manuscript correspondence – hidden away in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. – radically changes what we think about the era. Dr. Catherine Franklin will explore the misguided notion of those so-called Indian Wars, the forgotten peers of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, and why Custer still looms large in popular memory.
“The Great American Desert: Major Stephen Long’s Colorado Expedition of 1820”
Saturday, April 25 at 4 p.m., Buck Recreation Center (2004 W. Powers Ave., Littleton)
Sunday, April 26 at 2 p.m., Denver Public Library (10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy., 5th Floor, Denver)
Sunday, April 26 at 6 p.m., The Fort (19192 Hwy. 8, Morrison)
Using images of original paintings, sketches and maps, John Steinle will follow the Stephen H. Long Expedition of 1820 on its progress through Colorado and the rest of the American West. He will illustrate the many “firsts” that this expedition accomplished, and why the West was labeled the “Great American Desert” in the Expedition’s aftermath.
For more information or to register for a dinner lecture, call 303-839-1671.