Why is CU’s Dining Hall Named After a Cannibal?
Alferd Packer Restaurant & Grill may seem like a misspelling of perhaps a wealthy donor to the CU campus, but the actual story of the name comes from a famous cannibal in Colorado. Students were asked to name the dining hall when it was being built, and the name that won in a landslide from morbid college humor was Alferd Packer.
Packer was searching for gold in Breckenridge like many others in the 1800s, and banded himself with a small group of men that he didn’t know by lying and saying that he knew the area well (he did not). It was written that Packer was a horrible traveling companion as he did not have a rifle, he was greedy with other people’s rations, and he did not know where he was going.
All these things would have been annoying, but disaster really hit when the group was struck by a snowstorm in the mountains. Packer originally denied any claims of cannibalism, but later admitted that he had killed and eaten several of the men during the snowstorm while they were lost. Upon finally stumbling upon civilization in Colorado, alone, Packer first insisted that the other men had abandoned him and he had nearly starved to death. The townspeople thought this was odd considering Packer hardly looked malnourished, and they could not understand why the rest of the men would abandon him.
Packer was confronted by the townspeople after he began making large purchases, despite starting the trip with no money, Packer finally relented, saying that he and the other men had whittled each other down and taken the money from the others until there was only Packer and one other man left, who he killed and ate.
When the bodies were found all together after winter had passed and within walking distance of the town, it seemed far more likely that Packer had killed all the men in order to steal their supplies and money, then walked into town without eating them, which explains his lack of undernourishment. Packer was sentenced to 40 years in prison, the longest prison sentence to date at the time.