The Old Main Bell – Fort Collins, Colorado - Atlas Obscura

The Old Main Bell

After being lost for nearly a century, this historic bell finally returned home after its mysterious theft.  

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In 1910, a 450-pound bell could be heard ringing across the campus of Colorado Agricultural College. It was housed at the Old Main building, one of the most important buildings on campus at the time. It was rung at the start of the class day, and eventually to signal football victories. In 1919, the bell stopped ringing, supposedly damaged by overzealous students. However, the truth was, the bell was missing. 

One night, a group of men climbed the tower and stole the Old Main bell. They successfully made off with the quarter-ton bell, but quickly realized they had no idea what they were going to do with it. So they simply buried it on a farm for the next 50 years. 

During the 1970s, the bell had been all but forgotten; its victory chimes replaced by the Aggie Cannon. The only people who knew of the Old Main bell’s location were a select few members of a fraternity who’d been sworn to secrecy. It was these members who chose to exhume the bell when the farm was put on the market. The bell was moved to a frat house, and once again forgotten about for decades. It became something of a myth amongst the fraternity, especially after it was moved out-of-state for safekeeping.

During the construction of Canvas Stadium in 2017, an alumni center was also incorporated into the stadium’s design. For one man, this seemed like the perfect place for the Old Main bell to ring again. After the Executive Director of the Alumni Association received a strange phone call regarding the bell, it turned up in the middle of her driveway.

Today, the restored bell is housed in a tower built into the Iris & Michael Smith Alumni Center. It rings during special occasions and to celebrate Colorado State University football victories.

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