Published: March 1, 2016 By

Bell in UMC

The Original Bell of the Original USS Colorado
  1. Cast in 1856
  2. Weighs 800 lbs. 
  3. Found again 2015 
  4. Arrived CU-Boulder November 2015 
  5. New home: The UMC 

Home Port 

A long-lost warship bell has reached its new home port — one with a view of the Flatirons.

The 800-pound brass bell, cast in 1856 for the USS Colorado, the first in a series of Navy ships to bear the name, settled in its new home at CU-Boulder’s University Memorial Center just before Veterans Day.

After a 1,700-mile journey from a naval warehouse in Virginia, the bell joined various other military artifacts in the UMC’s Veterans Lounge, including later USS Colorado bells. The UMC is Colorado’s official veterans memorial.

Dick Cooper, a Colorado Springs-based officer of the Navy League, learned in early 2015 that the original bell had been found in the warehouse. He and Norris Hermsmeyer (Acct’67), a CU Naval ROTC alumnus and Vietnam War veteran, helped bring it to CU on permanent loan from the Navy.

“I wanted to perpetuate the memory of the ships that have worn the name USS Colorado — to share with the residents of the state of Colorado,” says Hermsmeyer, a Boulder resident who paid for the bell’s transportation to campus.

The original USS Colorado bell was cast in Philadelphia for a three-masted Civil War-era frigate named after the Colorado River. (Colorado was not granted statehood until 1876.)

The bell was later moved to a Navy cruiser, also called the USS Colorado, commissioned in 1905. For a time it was on display in Chicago, then wound up in storage in Virginia.

Someday, perhaps there will be yet another USS Colorado bell for the UMC: The fourth ship to carry the name, a nuclear-powered attack submarine, is under construction in Connecticut.

Photo by Jeremy Papasso/Boulder Daily Camera