Jerry had the day off so we headed over to the uniquely Colorado Bishop Castle. Field trip? Sure. We can call it that, I guess. On the way down to see it, I read all about the history of it to the kids. The website made it sound like it was the modern day Loretto chapel staircase. Jim built it all by himself. He felled the timber. He did all the ironworks. He poured the concrete. He moved the stones. It was going to be a marvel. It sits on 2.5 acres slap in the middle of BFE and you sorta just come upon it while driving on a winding road.
Bizarre is the understatement of the century.
The very first thing we climbed when we got there was the drawbridge? I’m not sure what it’s called. Two steps into the staircase and I saw at least 3 rusty nails sticking out of the walls. A few of the stairs were pretty wobbly too. I told Jerry right away that this whole place was like if the doghouse we built was a castle. The drawbridge took us to an overlook room that had a garage door opener, handicapped toilet seat, and a chair with 1 leg. To me, it was like meeting someone for the first time that was only wearing holey underpants. It was one Hell of a first impression. I didn’t get the garage door opener, chair with one leg, or toilet seat in the picture. But, trust me, it was there.
This might be a fine time to point out that I am marginally afraid of heights. I love rollercoasters- the higher the better! I don’t mind elevator rides and I had no problem standing on the glass at the top of the Sears tower. I had a major problem with every height today. Every. Single. One. There is a reason why building codes are a thing. The decorative iron work was seriously impressive. The structural iron work was sketchy AF looking. There was also this sign up at the top of one of the bird cages.
Yes, those are treetops you see there. Yes. There is quite literally nothing standing between my children and falling to near certain death besides the collapsible ironworks. There was also a random anchoring piece of iron that was right in the walkway that you had to step over to go up further. If anyone tripped on it- you’d yeet yourself right out the side of that bad boy like a less fortunate Superman. Anxiety was high, friends. On my way back down I saw a bridge to quite literally nowhere jutting off somewhere even higher. Later on, we saw the scale model of the castle and that bridge was supposed to connect. Honey, the only thing that bridge was connecting was people with their Creator.
I flatly refused to go up the other tower after getting about 1/3 of the way up. There were several steps that were hanging on by a strand of hair. In fact, there was a whole set of stairs that were being held up by chicken wire wrapped around the edges and then attached to the frame work of the “windows.” I used “” for windows because there were no windows- just window shaped holes. Even Medieval castles had shutters or hides to protect people from just flopping out 80 feet to the very unforgiving rubble below. The windows the castle did actually have were oddly placed stained glass. My personal favorite was the Betty Boop as an angel window.
Mr. Bishop was there today and anybody that knows Jerry knows he pulled up a chair and chatted with the old guy. Jerry loves hearing people’s stories, but I already knew that guy was all but one flew over the cuckoo’s nest. He had hand painted signs all over the castle that read like the back of the official 3rd reich shampoo bottle and he’s known for being a bit of a grump.
He told Jerry all manner of things and finished it up with and “I never used a level or a measuring tape.” The bridge to nowhere at 200 feet indicated that was, indeed, a fact. He did build the entire castle himself (like ALONE), which is extraordinarily impressive. There was also a petty ass message painted on the water tower that inspired the whole thing in case anyone was thinking about giving his dad credit.
I remember watching Love After Lockup and seeing Josh and Cheryl at a castle with a big dragon out front and Cheryl pitching the hugest fit because the castle was janky and dangerous and Josh suggested they get married there. When I watched it I thought she was the worst. After going there today, I get it.
He does allow anyone to go for free because he grew up poor and wants everyone to have the opportunity to see it. He’s gone to great lengths to ensure that no matter what happens to him, it will always be free. He relies heavily?/exclusively? on donations and there were plenty of signs to let you know that he did. I still think it’s very generous to make his attraction free. Although it did cross my mind several times that if there were money exchanged for admission, he would have to have a lot of insurance because then people could sue him when they got lockjaw or fell from 16 stories to their death.
All in all, I’m glad we went and saw it. I’m also glad that we didn’t go to the top of the second tower. One visit to the castle is probably enough for my lifetime. I am 100% team crazy artist man. I grew up practically drunk on the art of Walter Anderson but he was mentally ill and channeling. The entire Bishop Castle felt like one big petty fest. I, the Queen of Passive Agressivia, do adore me some petty, but devoting ones whole life to building a castle seems like devotion that I don’t have. The website kept mentioning Mr. Bishop’s religion and how Jesus helped him build the castle. I don’t know if I missed an allusion to Noah and the ark, but Jesus was a carpenter and he would never have signed off on that project.