Mines in the Wilderness
Jarvis Hall & Territorial School of Mines
Photo courtesy Colorado Historical Society
"We predict the School of Mines will have a brilliant and successful future" proclaimed George West upon the opening of this college to the world. Little did he know this was an understatement, even by his lofty standards. The founders of CSM knew their school would be useful to Colorado, but likely did not envision it becoming the foremost school of its kind on the planet that it became.
From the beginning Randall believed that a School of Mines would be vital towards the future of Colorado, of which the mining industry was a major part. The Colorado Territorial legislature agreed, with the urging of such prominent pioneers as V.F. Hayden, Bela F. Hughes, George West, William A.H. Loveland, Edward L. Berthoud, John B. Wolff, and Charles C. Welch. In 1870 they appropriated $3,872.45 towards establishing Randall's new school, and Randall, John Armor of Denver (a future Golden businessman) and Welch were appointed as its first Board of Trustees. Ground was broken on May 2, 1870, for a new building 50 feet to the west of the rebuilding Jarvis Hall.
In 1871, the Territorial School of Mines was completed. Designed very likely by the same unknown master of Jarvis Hall, this was also a 3 story tall building with a mansard roof designed in the same unique combination of French, Gothic and Italianate. However, it had some important differences. Instead of a central bell tower, it had a massive signature Gothic castle tower at its northwest corner. The building was constructed by the contractors Thomas Gow and Samuel Flint. Gow, a prominent Golden builder, enrolled his son James at Jarvis Hall, the first step in the education of the future master that designed the Armory, Quaintance Block, and Gem Theater.
However, while Jarvis Hall opened with celebration and fanfare, the Territorial School of Mines suddenly stood idle. It had a building, but no funding to operate it. Finally, in the year of 1873, the college got on its feet, with the help of additional funding aid from the Territorial government. This aroused considerable consternation, in particular complaints from the Rocky Mountain News about government funds being used to support a church institution. To this, Transcript editor George West responded:
The News is informed that its position in regard to the proposed Territorial hospital, and also in regard to the Territorial School of Mines, is more sentimental than sensible. The Transcript does not now favor, nor has it favored, the appropriation of public money to any church or denomination, but when a public purpose receives the almost unanimous approval of the people of the Territory, we do not object to said purpose merely because a church or denomination offers to carry it out, and this, particularly, when the thing proposed to be done is legitimately within the limits of church work. As the position of the News in regard to this matter ‘was expressly and explicitly dictated by its editor and proprietor, William N. Byers,’ we have nothing further to say, as we dislike to waste argument on a position that must be, as a matter of course, not even weak in the heel.
- Colorado Transcript, April 30, 1873
TSM hired Edward J. Mallet to become the first person ever to lead the Colorado School of Mines, and he arrived in June of 1873. An accomplished chemist described as a young man and "a thorough master of his line" with "no superior west of the Missouri River," Mallett was a recent graduate of Columbia College in New York, described as "the only mining school in the United States that has acquired a national reputation." Mallet hired two able assistants, William West (manager of the Golden Smelting Works) and Edward L. Berthoud (respected Colorado geologist and engineer), and the three comprised the school’s original faculty. The Territorial School of Mines building was equipped with over $1,000 in equipment to begin its career. The 1st floor included 4 furnaces, one for an 8-horsepower motor, one for manufacturing, another for assaying, and the fourth for roasting ores. Additionally this floor (which always had a dirt floor as a consequence of running out of building money) had a gasometer with capacity for 100 cubic feet of gas, and re-agent tables each with its own apparatus and chemicals. The 2nd floor, originally used as a library, became a laboratory with an office where assay balances were kept, and a lecture room. The 3rd floor held an additional lecture room with a pair of experimental stereopticons capable of throwing images on an 18-foot screen, Golden's first projection theater. TSM’s tower (which students from all campus schools liked to gather on top of and relax during hot summer evenings) was used for taking meteorological observations. On Washington's birthday Mrs. Jarvis gave a great flag to top TSM's tower, and it was thrown to the breeze.
Jarvis Hall & Territorial School of Mines,
Note George West training Jarvis Hall cadets in "The School of the Soldier" of Frederick the Great
Photo courtesy Richard A. Ronzio Collection, Golden Historical Collection
Despite its bright and promising advent, conflict continued over the government funding of the Episcopal-owned Territorial School of Mines. In 1874 the Episcopal church agreed to sell the school to the Territorial government for $5000. A new Board of Trustees was organized, comprised of William A.H. Loveland of Golden, A. Wright of Boulder, Nathaniel P. Hill (a famed smelting master) of Black Hawk, W.W. Ware of Georgetown, C.C. Davis of Denver, J.M. Paul of Fairplay, and William Armstrong. The building was renovated, and new equipment placed for the benefit of students. Its general instruction plan, costing a student $150 a year for three semesters, included courses in Mining Engineering, Metallurgy, Mineralogy, Higher Mathematics, German, Spanish, Photography, Blowdrawing, and wet and dry Chemistry Assaying. Thus TSM became the first publicly sponsored school of higher education in Colorado history. In 1876, by the efforts of Professor Berthoud, Mines took first prize at the Centennial Exposition for the best geological collection, the first of what would be many prestigious awards for the institution. By this great moment, however, another sister school had joined it on campus.