Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Our Trip to Bishop Castle—Part 2

We had heard for years Bishop Castle is a “must see” in Colorado.  It is unique and quirky, due in majority to the odd and quirky builder, Jim Bishop. He painstakingly placed and mortared every stone into place. 
A 15 year old Jim Bishop bought the 2 ½ acre plot of land for $450 in 1969.  He purchased the land with the intention of building a small cottage.  What started as a cottage ended up turning into a one man’s obsession to build a castle.  I wondered if he builds, and continues to expand, his castle because of the objections of the government—not in spite of them.
This tourist attraction might be considered a family destination. I would recommend parents of young children be very cautious when bringing your family.  

There is a long narrow stair case that can be used to enter the castle--some went in this way.  I did not!

There are several narrow, dark stairways.  There are areas of limited or no safety railings.  There are pieces of the structure  with holes for little feet to slip right through.

This "cage" sits high atop a tower.  Getting to it took more nerve than I could build up in a month.  Made me think of the ball of death that motorcycles use in dare devil shows.  😬

One of the steeples is roughly 160 feet, which is about the size of a 16 story building!   A local zoning official told Bishop he could not build any higher than 25 stories—which only makes him want to go higher.

There is welding and iron work throughout. The metal work adds special details to the castle.  I liked the details, however, there were multiple places welds were broken.  There were also boards that have large holes.  Just before the wedding I saw a woman fall ankle deep through a hole, her shoe landing in the floor below. 

A large piece of railing along the catwalk had completely broken off, but luckily  there were a couple of ropes to warn us—so I did not going careening over the edge.  Ok, I feel a little unsettled--but luckily there is a rope and yellow caution tape to save me. 
George is not comfortable with heights, he was more than a little nervous here.  The fact that the entire structure was built outside of any building codes, did not make him more comfortable.  His nervousness only increased as he saw holes in the structure and missing or broken safety and support elements. 
Bishop uses no blueprints, he has no written plans and he has no interest is building anything to government building code.  The rocks that Bishop uses to build his castle are taken primarily from ditches and National Forest property. 

Bishop has single handedly built his castle.  He has used make-shift pulleys to lift rocks up to create the foundation, walls and stairs.  

He is a skilled Iron worker and does all the welding and metal work throughout the property.  

There is a large "ballroom" that special events (weddings, etc) are held.  It has stained glass on one in and clear panes of glass on the other with french doors.

The castle is a combination of high flying  buttresses, a great hall and several extremely narrow spiral staircases. There are high steeples and steel bridges between the different castle structures.  

There is a giant dragon’s head that spews fire, although it this didn’t while we were there.

There are hand painted signs throughout the property.  The signs detail Bishop’s strong anti-government views.   He seems to be against anything with real or perceived authority.  Many of his tirades are targeted at the IRS, politicians and political parties, the United Nations and even law enforcement.

Here are a few hints to make your visit great:

  • Know what you are getting into
  • If you see Jim Bishop, be prepared.  Cover your ears and get out your camera.
  • Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes (there is a short hill to climb up to the castle and there are a lot of steep, uneven stairs)
  • Steps, bridges and catwalks are made with sheets of steel grating.  Where they have broken, he has simply laid another sheet on top.
  • If there has been rain, it will be very muddy.
  • If there has not been rain, it will be dirty and dusty
  • The castle was built with no permits and no building code approvals—so it can be dangerous (there are warning signs posted)
  • Bishop does not care if the castle property is safe.  So visit at your own risk.  
  • Hold tight to your kids hands.
  • I recommend googling Bishop Castle to see a little of it before you visit.  
  • The YouTube videos are a hoot to watch.
Bishop Castle is an unforgettable experience.  We like Unique sights across America and Bishop Castle definitely fits that bill.
**Without hesitation I would recommend putting Bishop Castle on your Colorado sight-
seeing list.

Directions to Bishops Castle:

The easiest way to get to Bishop Castle is from I-25. Take exit #74 at Colorado City and head towards the mountains. (right off the exit ramp from the north and left off the exit ramp from the south) This puts you on Colorado state highway 165 and its 24 miles without a turn to the Castle. You will see signs for the castle as you come upon it, and there's usually many cars out front.
The Scenic Route, from Colorado Springs, is to take Hwy. 115 south to Florence, turn left at the first traffic light onto Hwy. 67, turn right onto Hwy 96 in Wetmore and at the next junction you will see signs for Bishop Castle. Turn left there onto Hwy. 165 and it is 12 miles.

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