Colorado School of Mines - Alderson Hall

Address: S.E. corner of Illinois and 16th Streets, Golden, 80401

This building was completed in 1953 at a cost of $1,200,000. It was dedicated to Victor C. Alderson, who was president of the Colorado School of Mines from 1903-1913 and again from 1917-1925. It is no accident that this building is devoted to the study of petroleum, chemical engineering, and petroleum refining. Dr. Alderson was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Engineering by the School of Mines in 1938 and was a pioneer in the field of petroleum refining and engineering. In 1919 he established a petroleum engineering curriculum for the School of Mines. In 1920 he published the first book on oil shale in the United States. A motto attributed to Dr. Alderson hung on a wall in the library for many years: "This is the place for men to work, and not for boys to play." All was not always smooth during Dr. Alderson's second term as president of the school. There were several claims about his alleged interference in professors' sphere of responsibility. There was also a strike by some students, and when the strikers were allowed to return to classrooms, with no punishment, that decision brought another schism on campus. In 1921 a legislative sub-committee investigated the charges, and they found that none of the charges was warranted. Alderson Hall is unusual in a couple of respects. Inside the building is an oil drilling rig that goes from 100 feet underground up to the top of the four-story building. The drill does not drill for oil, but it is used to teach students about oil drilling and oil drilling equipment. On the rig is a pumping unit to teach students pumping techniques. Another unusual aspect of the building is the underground storage vault that is separate and apart from the building. This vault is for the storage of explosives used in teaching mining. In January 1977, there was an explosion in Alderson Hall in an area of a laboratory that was built to be explosion proof but had never been tested. Fortunately, this test proved the design of the area. No one was injured, and the largest damage was to a window that was blown out. The estimated loss was $250.
Quad Map/Date: Golden, 1965 (1994)
Sec/Town/Range: S34, T3S, R70W
Elevation: 5770
Source: "Mines Magazine," 6/2/54; "Chemical and Engineering News," 8/30/54; "Colorado Transcript," 1/28/77; Colorado School of Mines Office of Institutional Advancement, 6/20/89.
Last Modified: Mon, March 8 1999

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