Lake City

                                                    A national historic mining district in Hinsdale County

Lake City is located approximately 40 miles south of Gunnison on Colorado 149. Located on the eastern side of the San Juans, Lake City is
the seat of Hinsdale County, the least populated county in the state. Prospecting began in the area around 1871, with good claims
throughout the region

                                                                                                          Photos from:

Lake City is nestled in the heart of the picturesque San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado. At 8,756 feet in elevation and with an in-
town population of 383, Lake City is unspoiled and abounding in natural beauty. Lake City, Colorado is named because of its proximity to
pristine Lake San Cristobal, the second largest natural lake in Colorado (the largest is Grand Lake). Lake San Cristobal was formed by the
Slumgullion Mudslide at its lower end. The lake mirrors the Continental Divide to its east and provides excellent fishing and boating.

It is the seat of Hinsdale County.

Prospecting began in the area around 1871, and after a road building party found gold in nearby hills, the town flourished. The arrival of
the Denver & Rio Grande railroad in 1889 provided cheap transportation for the ore, facilitating full development of the mines. Until the
silver boom ran out, prosperous Lake City supported two banks, two breweries, seven saloons, and the first church and newspaper on
Colorado's Western Slope.

Today, Lake City is a very well preserved town full of turn-of-the-century architecture. Visitors can explore the Victorian charm of downtown
with over 75 buildings from the late 1800s - one of Colorado's largest historical districts.

Text courtesy of Preserve America:

                                                     Alferd Packer Murder/Mystery Tour!

                                                   Saturday, October 02, 2010 - Sunday, October 03, 2010

In 1874, Alferd Packer, known as the Colorado Cannibal, was accused of killing and eating his traveling companions. Join us as we tour
Lake City, Colorado and visit the Packer murder site and the location of Packer's second camp. Learn how Packer was cleared of murder
and Colorado's most famous murder case was solved. The group will also tour the Hinsdale County Historical Society Museum to view
Alferd Packer memorabilia and savor the culinary delights of French Chef Bruno at his restaurant.
Led by David Bailey

$185/Museum of Western Colorado members; $210/Non-members - includes transportation, dinner, lodging and admission
Register by September 10

Register online:

Museum of the West  --  462 Ute Ave. --  Grand Junction, Colorado 81502
Contact info:  (970) 242-0971 or David Bailey at (970) 260-7762

                        Lake City Ghost & Cemetery Tours ~ Summer 2010!

Ghost Tours 2010:  Friday evenings:  June 18, 25; July 9, 16, 23; Aug. 6, 13, ~ 8 pm.  Meet at the Hinsdale County Museum.  A long-time
Lake City tradition is the telling of ghost lore and legend.  Join in the tradition, and keep the memory of the local ghosts alive.  Tickets: $8
for adults; $2 for children under 10.  Bring a flashlight and dress warmly, but be warned-even a coat may not keep the creepy chills away!  
Information: 970-944-2050.

Cemetery Tours 2010: Tuesdays from June 22 through September 7 ~ 10:30 am.  Meet at the Hinsdale County Museum. The full spectrum
of Lake City's Victorian-era personalities is revealed in these fascinating tours.  Tickets: $5 for adults; $2 for children under 10.  Your own
transportation is required.  Information: 970-944-2050.

                                                2009 Past Event:         

The Trial of Alferd Packer

Annual event...........(Usually}

August 5th & 11th, 2009

At the County Courthouse.
Tickets are $12 Adults - $10 for Lake City Arts members, and $6 for children.  
Sponsored by Lake City Arts
Lake City Arts: General Information: 970-944-2706
Box office: 970-944-2710

Alferd Packer Trail to be held at various dates every summer. For 2009: (July 20, 23, 28, 30) and (August 8,11).
Contact Lake City Arts for info and more details.

"The Trial of Alferd Packer"

By Paula Edwards and Mike Brooks

Director’s note:

Alferd Packer is one of only three people (and the first) to be jailed in the United States for cannibalism. His first trial was held in Lake City
in 1883. He was found guilty of murder at that trial and sentenced to hang, however, a legal technicality cancelled the execution. Three
years later he was tried in Gunnison on five counts of manslaughter, found guilty and sentenced to 40 years in prison. He served 17 years
at the state penitentiary in Canon City and, through the efforts of many, particularly Polly Pry of the Denver Post, he was granted parole.
He then went to work as a guard for the Denver Post.

"The Trial of Alferd Packer" gives members of the audience a chance to make their own decision on the guilt or innocence of Alferd Packer.
In the play, a new trial is conducted with many of the original participants in the previous trials portrayed by local actors. Some "artistic
license" is taken with the testimonies resulting in a more entertaining, if not entirely accurate, account of the events leading up to the trial.
After all testimonies and summations are presented, a jury, selected from the audience, is asked to decide Alferd Packer’s fate.

With permission of, and apologies to, the authors some "minor modifications" have been made to the original script.

When in Lake City, be sure to visit the....

                           ~ ~ ~ ~     Packer Saloon & Cannibal Grill!     ~ ~ ~ ~

View their Facebook page:

In the summer…great outdoor grill and deck, with indoor seating too.  In the winter we move the Cannibal Grill inside! Same great
atmosphere, but warmer.  We have a big screen TV for football, hockey or whatever else we can find on the DirecTV schedule.  Serving
lunch and dinner 7 days a week. Friendly people, good food and cold beer make for a fun night out!

Gavin and Lynn McNitt

Packer Saloon & Cannibal Grill                 
310 N Silver St/PO Box 457

                                       Some excellent Alferd Packer links:

The Alfred Packer Collection at the Colorado State Archives  = (TruTV page on Alferd Packer)

The Old Jail At the Saguache County Museum~!

Cannibal! The Musical - IMDB:

Alferd Packer's Grill at CU Boulder:
Named after Colorado's most famous cannibal, the grill offers everything from salads to burgers to homestyle comfort, plus
lots of grab 'n' go items for that quick stop between classes or meetings. Pastries, bagels, sandwiches, ice cream, chips,
yogurts, and all of your favorite candy served as a speedy snack or as a great accompaniment to your meal.

The Alferd Packer Memorial String Band - (Lawrence, KS)

In downtown Lake City stands the Hinsdale County Museum, which boasts the most extensive collection of Packer memorabilia known.
Included is a skull fragment from one of his victims, a pair of shackles used on Alferd when he was in the Lake City jail, and a number of
buttons from the clothes of the five men he eventually ate. Sadly, the butcher knife found sticking in the thigh of Frank Miller (a Packer
entree), has disappeared.

Alferd Packer

The factual story of Alfred Packer has never been completely separated from the exaggerated legend, but historians have agreed on a
basic outline of the story.  During the winter of 1874 Packard was hired to guide five prospectors over the
mountains from Ouray.  Packard, already having served some jail time in Salt Lake City for counterfeiting, really knew nothing about the
rugged San Juan area, but the unsuspecting prospectors hired him readily.  It was a very severe winter.  They were
soon lost amongst the giant snowdrifts in below zero temperatures.  Game was nowhere to be found and the supplies soon ran out.  By the
time the men had reached the foot of Slumgullion Pass, they had already boiled and eaten their moccasins.

Six weeks later, Packer, traveling solo, showed up at the Los Pinos Indian Agency, 76 miles from Lake City.  He said that he had lost the
other travelers during a very heavy snowstorm.  He had no idea what had happened to them.  Strangely, Packer didn’t
look mal-nourished, and didn’t even ask for any food. His first concern was whiskey.  He had lots of money to spend at the saloon, and
several wallets in his pockets.

When the Indians found strips of human flesh along Packer’s trail, they formed a search party.  At the foot of Slumgullion Pass, the bodies
of the men were found.  They appeared to have been killed in their sleep, and all showed very strong evidence
of having been cannibalized.

Packer took off and disappeared for nine years, but he was eventually found and tried for the murders. He said that he had come back to
camp after hunting to find one of the prospectors had gone crazy and had killed the other four, and Packer had to kill him in self-defense.

But the evidence strongly suggested that Packer had taken an ax to the men while they slept.  He was convicted and sentenced to hang.  
Packer maintained his innocence, sticking to his story, and won a new trial through a legal loophole.  In 1886
he was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to spend forty years in hard labor camp at Canon City. He was paroled in 1906 and died
of natural causes a year later.

The site where the bodies were found is now known as Cannibal Plateau.  Lake City remembers Packer by hosting an annual Alferd Packer
Jeep Tour and Barbecue, and the cafeteria in the student union at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is called the Alferd Packer Memorial


              Bits of suspected finger bones found at Packer massacre site

Denver Post article from Monday, September 06, 2004  
By Nancy Lofholm
Denver Post Staff Writer

Lake City - A stiff and cold wind pushed menacing clouds over Slumgullion Pass as a team of historians and scientists made the latest
gruesome find in a 130-year-old case of cannibalism.

Finger bones.

At least that's what the researchers who combed over the Alfred Packer massacre site last week believe the little dumbbell-shaped nuggets
are. They found them buried in soft dirt down a hillside from where the five victims of the bizarre crime are buried.

The bones were likely left in the slope, they surmise, when the butchered bodies were dragged up to higher ground from the place they
were killed along the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River.

The bone bits are just another gory detail in a case that still grips imaginations and generates research a dozen decades after a judge
here sent the man-eating Packer to prison.

"People can't get enough of Alferd Packer," part-time Lake City Municipal Judge Al Lutz said as he gathered in the Hinsdale County
Courthouse with dozens of other Lake City residents who make a habit of re- enacting Packer's trial.

Most in Lake City refer to "Alferd" Packer, which he had tattooed on his arm, when referring to the notorious cannibal. However, Civil War
documents, court documents and other contemporary records show "Alfred." Yet another mystery.

Packer and his fellow prospectors had been traveling from Salt Lake City to an Indian agency south of Gunnison when they became lost
and stranded in a fierce winter storm early in 1874. Packer was the only one to walk out several months later, and he was charged with
killing the others when their filleted bodies were found.

Packer admitted eating their flesh but claimed he killed only one of the men in self-defense after that man went berserk and killed the

There may not be anyone in Lake City so consumed with the tale as David Bailey, curator of the Museum of Western Colorado.

Bailey organized the interdisciplinary team of researchers for the "Al Packer Lost Camp Expedition" last week. The expedition was a last
sweep of the massacre site with metal detectors, climbers and the practiced eyes of archaeologists.

They also inspected a sheltered spot several miles away that Bailey's archive research indicates is the camp where Packer spent two
months eating meat while waiting for spring thaw.

Bailey came with a film crew that is creating a History Channel cannibalism special, which will follow a National Geographic special filmed
here several weeks ago.

Bailey's last expedition before he publishes a book on his decade of Packer research didn't turn up any startling new information - just the
possible bones and a charcoal nugget from the massacre camp.

The "lost camp," which was located through historic descriptions of the site, didn't yield any physical evidence.

Folks in Lake City say they don't mind. The mystery helps to fuel the unflagging interest in anything Packer.

This summer, tourists packed the Lake City courtroom for the weekly trial re-enactment. They came for a Memorial Day revival of the Alferd
Packer Days festival, when the town of 700 was hopping with bone-tossing competitions, mystery meat barbecues and buyers for
memorabilia like "Packer preserves" - jars filled with doll heads.

"Some people think it's gross," said Timberline gift shop owner Kathy Kent. "But there's still so much interest."

Staff writer Nancy Lofholm can be reached at 970-256-1957 or .

Durango Herald article


Hunger for the Truth:
Alferd Packer took to cannibalism in 1874 - was he also a killer?

by Andrew Gulliford

Article Last Updated; Sunday, February 08, 2009

LAKE CITY - This month, 135 years ago, began the six-week ordeal in which starving and disoriented Alferd E. Packer stopped eating wild
rose petals. Instead, trapped in the deep snows of the San Juans, he began gnawing on the corpses of his deceased comrades.

And thus began one of Colorado's most grisly and enduring legends and murder mysteries, assuring Packer of a unique place in state
history and the annals of the Old West.

He had been part of a larger band of 20 gold-seekers who had left Utah and split up into two groups. On Feb. 9, 1874, Al Packer and five
other prospectors departed Chief Ouray's winter camp near Montrose. Instead of listening to the venerable chief and accepting his
gracious offer to say in the Ute camp, the would-be miners foolishly headed into deep snow.

Al Packer later stated, "Our matches had all been used, and we were carrying our fire in an old coffee pot. Three or four days after our
provisions were all consumed, we took our moccasins, which were made of raw hide, and cooked them. ... Our trail was entirely drifted over.
In places, the snow had blown away from patches of wild rose bushes, and we were gathering the buds from these bushes, stewing them
and eating them."

Packer left Utah with few provisions and no weapons. Nine weeks later, on April 16 at the Los Pinos Indian Agency south of present-day
Gunnison, he arrived with a Winchester rifle, a skinning knife and a coffee pot containing live coals. He had wrapped his frostbitten feet in
blanket strips and, though haggard and worn, he was otherwise fit.

Packer drifted over to Dolan's saloon in Saguache, playing high-stakes poker and buying a $70 horse.

Another member of the original gold-seekers arrived and questioned where Packer had gotten his spending money, as he left Utah
destitute. Other miners urged Indian Agent Charles Adams to interrogate Al Packer, who finally gave his first of three "confessions," signed
and dated May 8, 1874.

Packer reluctantly admitted that the small band had starved in the San Juans. Israel Swan, the oldest member of the group, had died from
hunger and exposure and they had eaten him.

Jailed in Saguache, Packer escaped, changed his identity, and was arrested in Wyoming before being returned to Hinsdale County for trial.
In the intervening years, Lake City had prospered and the two-story, wood-frame courthouse in which Packer was tried still stands. I've
been in the second- floor courtroom where the jury deliberated. I've seen the actual court records on display, with their ink fading from too
much sunlight.

The area northeast of Lake City where Packer's party became lost is listed on maps as Cannibal Plateau. The site where the bodies were
found five miles beyond town is known as Deadman's Gulch. The March 1883 Saguache Chronicle headline read, "Cannibal Packer - After
Nine Years a Fugitive From Justice, the Capture is Effected of the Human Ghoul who Murdered and Grew Corpulant (sic) on the Flesh of
his Comrades."

After being recaptured, in a second confession Packer stated that while he attempted to find the Los Pinos Agency, Shannon Bell killed
James Humphrey, George Noon and Frank Miller as they slept around the campfire.

Packer stated had been out searching for food, and when he returned to camp a raging Shannon Bell accosted him with a hatchet. Packer
fired twice with a pistol, shooting Bell in self-defense.

He explained that after killing Bell, "I tried to get away every day, but could not, so I lived on the flesh of these men the greater part of the
sixty days I was out. Then the snow began to have a crust and I started out up the creek. ..."

His lawyer mounted a spirited defense, including the legal question of whether the state of Colorado could try Al for murder when in 1874
Colorado was not yet a state. But off Packer went to prison for 17 years before The Denver Post began a petition to have him released.

In the penitentiary, he made horsehair bridles, one of which I've seen displayed at the Museum of Western Colorado in Grand Junction. He
also built elaborate Victorian dollhouses, which I've viewed at the Colorado Historical Society in Denver.

Alferd Packer died in 1907, but his misspelled name and his unique reputation lives on. He's evolved from Old West infamy to New West

The Museum of Western Colorado contains a rusted 1862 Colt Police Model .32 five-shot revolver with two shots fired.

Utilizing high-tech X-ray spectrograph forensic analysis, Mesa State College's electron microscopy facility proved that bullet fragments
exhumed from the burial site match lead from the old pistol found in the 1950s on the Cannibal Plateau. Perhaps Packer really did shoot
Shannon Bell in self-defense.

Museum curator David Bailey believes, "Alferd didn't deny he ate the bodies, but he killed only in self-defense. It's never too late for the
truth. He was wrongly convicted."

His memory is alive and well in Lake City, where "Al Packer Days," the Packer Burger at the Cannibal Grill, and a large wooden historical
marker proclaiming the Alferd Packer Massacre Site are popular attractions.

Travel magazines state that at the Hinsdale County Museum, "Colorado's most notorious cannibal, Alferd Packer, is celebrated in this, the
largest collection of Packer memorabilia known. You will see skull fragments and clothing buttons from victims, as well as the shackles used
when he was imprisoned." Tourists are advised, "Don't miss the actual burial site, just five minutes from town."

Students at the University of Colorado in Boulder renamed the student union restaurant the Alferd E. Packer Memorial Grill. In print, there's
Alferd Packer's Wilderness Cookbook, and two students at CU's film school, who later created the TV hit South Park, produced "Cannibal!
The Musical!" Like Packer's companions, the film was short-lived.

Unlike the Old West a century ago, nowadays prospectors rarely trudge through deep snows searching for gold mines. This is the New
West, so instead we have backcountry skiers, boarders and friends on snowshoes who head out for deep powder.

However you choose to enjoy the high country, take a lesson from the Al Packer story. Keep your gear in good condition, carefully choose
your companions and take a few extra granola bars - just in case. Andrew Gulliford is a professor of Southwest studies and history at Fort Lewis College.

Photos from the ABOVE article:

Packer’s pistol was excavated at the murder site on the Cannibal Plateau in 1950 and now is in the Museum of Western Colorado in Grand

                                                               Photo by Courtesy of the Museum of Western Colorado

                                                      This .38 caliber rimfire cartridge, circa 1874, was found at the site.

                                                             Photo by Courtesy of the Museum of Western Colorado

This photo, taken in the 1920s or 1930s, shows the grave site for Packer’s  companions between Lake City and the top of 11,361-foot
Slumgullion Pass.

                       Photo by Courtesy of the Nina Heald Webber Postcard Collection at the Center of Southwest Studies

                                                                   A close-up of the grave site for Packer’s companions.

Photo by Courtesy of Andrew Gulliford

                                                    Alferd Packer books:

Alferd Packer's High Protein Cookbook
by Wendy Spurr

Book Description:

This is a light-hearted cookbook that combines contemporary high protein recipes with historic reference to the legend of Alferd Packer,
Colorado's notorious cannibal. The recipts are everyday meals prepared in the Spurr household, although the names have been adapted
especially for this fun book. Illustrated with drawing from Harper's Weekly of 1874, and photos from the Colorado Historical Society.

About the Authors:
Wendy and Kimberly Spurr are mother and daughter who enjoy doing many things together, cooking being one of those things. Kimberly is
an archeologist who spends much of her time in the field so when she has the chance, cooking in-doors is a pleasure. Wendy, along with
her husband, is owner of Centennial Publications. Her responsibilities are mostly with the computers so cooking is always a break.

Product Details:

Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Centennial Publications (January 10, 1995)
ISBN: 1882418190


From and E-Bay

Alfred Packers Wilderness Cookbook

(Wild & Woolly West series, 9)
by James E. Banks

Paperback: 33 pages
Publisher: Filter Pr Llc (November 1, 1985)
ISBN: 0910584095


Otto Mears, his life & times: With notes on the Alferd Packer Case

by Ervan F Kushner  

Out of Print--Limited Availability


Alferd G. Packer, cannibal! Victim?

by Ervan F Kushner  

Out of Print--Limited Availability    


Alfred Packer; the true story of the man-eater

by Robert Wesley Fenwick  

Out of Print--Limited Availability     


Al Packer;: A Colorado cannibal

by Fred Mazzulla  


Packer, the cannibal,: And other story poems

by Stella M Pavich  


Littleton cemetery, 1860-1986 and the life of Alfred Packer, 1842-1907

by E. M Frisby  

Out of Print--Limited Availability    

Alfred Packer: the true story of Colorado's man-eater

by Robert Wesley Fenwick  

Out of Print--Limited Availability     


A remembrance of Alfred Packer

by Oliver Nagel Porter  

Out of Print--Limited Availability     


Mountain madman or mountain madness?:
Alfred Packer, Colorado cannibal

by Pat Jacobs  

Out of Print--Limited Availability     


The case of Alfred Packer, the man-eater

by Paul H Gantt  

Out of Print--Limited Availability     


The true story of Packer, the cannibal

by Stella M Pavich  

Out of Print--Limited Availability     


Al Packer: The scourge of western cuisine, his stories and recipes

by Harry Hardrock  

Out of Print--Limited Availability     


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