Published: Nov. 10, 2020

CU's Old Main Bell Campus lore says the first bell cracked following a football victory over Colorado School of Mines in 1926. Others claim it happened during the off-season. 

Regardless of how Old Main’s 1,300-pound bronze bell cracked, it was replaced by a new one, and the original university bell was stored in the Carlson Gymnasium on campus for safekeeping. For a little while, anyway. 

In 1948, Mines students stole the bell, claiming it belonged to their school. They buried it in a clay pit near Golden, Colorado for two years before returning it with an addition — a carving of a large, thin “M.”

The bell was permanently relocated to the Heritage Center on the third floor of Old Main in the 1980s after spending years in the basement of Macky Auditorium.   

The second bell lasted only two years — witnesses reported it definitely cracked after a CU football victory — and was replaced in 1928 by the bell that remains functional in Old Main today. You can hear it ring during commencement and other special occasions. 

Photo courtesy Mona Lambrecht, CU Heritage Center