Border War rivals jointly restore The Bronze Boot
LARAMIE -- It’s been fought over and celebrated within football locker rooms for over five decades, and before its life in bronze began, it was on the foot of an American soldier, captain Dan Romero, on the ground of the Vietnam War.
After 53 years on college football sidelines, it was beginning to show its age.
That’s why, in January 2021, officials from Colorado State and Wyoming got together and decided the time was right to restore The Bronze Boot to protect it for the next 50-plus years of its existence and beyond.
“I know both schools are extremely proud and passionate about the rivalry we share, and The Bronze Boot has been symbolic of that rivalry since 1968,” said Wyoming Athletics Director Tom Burman. “More than that, it is truly one of the greatest traveling trophies in all of college sports. We are excited for fans to see the restored Boot this coming season when the Cowboys and Rams play in Laramie on Saturday, Nov. 6 for an afternoon kickoff. We want to thank everyone involved in the restoration, including CSU Athletics Director Joe Parker. I know the two teams can’t wait to play for The Bronze Boot for the 54th time this season.”
“The Bronze Boot is one of, if not the most coveted trophies in all of college football, and we both knew this was an undertaking that needed to occur to protect the trophy for the next half-century of competition,” said Colorado State Director of Athletics Joe Parker. “Over the years, both teams have had hard-earned celebrations handling The Boot, and that wear-and-tear was really beginning to take hold. We’re thankful to Wyoming for their partnership, and for the team of individuals who were able to restore and protect The Bronze Boot for years to come.”
In its previous state, the original bronzing around the sole of the boot had begun to crack and separate, and the base of the trophy was disheveled and showing signs of rot from five decades of mud, snow, and rain.
In short, The Bronze Boot was in danger of falling apart in front of our very eyes in the traditional post-game sprint and celebration to follow.
With the help of Colorado State volunteer historian John Hirn, The Bronzery in Escondido, Calif., was identified as the sole remaining foundry in the United States that could bronze a material object. Owner Hoss Khollesi and his team took great care in strengthening the boot with modern techniques that now include a doubled plating of bronze while retaining all of the unique wrinkles and indents of a real-life wartime boot.
Additionally, the bolts that attached the trophy to the base, which originally simply ran through a raw leather boot and rubber sole, have been strengthened around a metal plate.
In short, The Bronze Boot is stronger than ever without losing any of its original leather or components.
While the base sat empty without its other half, the team at Alpine Cabinets in Timnath, Colo., - owned and operated by Dick and Ellie Chinn - got to work on restoring the walnut base to its original condition. After their work, the base is as refreshed as its counterpart and ready to receive the next 50-plus years of inscriptions.
The Bronze Boot and its base were officially reunited on July 29 after two months of restoration work.
The 2021 meeting between the Wyoming Cowboys and Colorado State Rams is set for Saturday, Nov. 6 at 1:30 p.m. on Wyoming’s Johan Field at War Memorial Stadium.