When one hears the word “castle,” many of your minds will wander to Europe, where several castles still exist and remain standing. Seeing the towering structures rise with the mountains and the trees invite our imagination to wander back in time. These structures are stunning, and not an ordinary sight in this modern day world. America lacks in the castle department, but there is one place you can see one. So buckle up, and head to Colorado, where the Bishop Castle awaits.
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The Beginnings of Bishop Castle Colorado
Nestled in the Wet Mountains and surrounded by the San Isabel National Forest lies the hidden castle. Made from rock and welded metal, the towers of the castle stand tall beside the forest trees, offering a shocking surprise in the quiet forest. You don’t see an actual castle in Colorado, let alone America every day. A couple of acres were purchased by 15-year-old Jim Bishop, who, as a young teen was drawn to the forest and the mountains. Not even old enough to stake a legal claim to the land, his parents made the purchase for him. His hard earned 1,250 dollars bought the land, through paper routes and mowing lawns. Jim and his dad Willard spent many summers working on their family cabin on the new acreage, as well as camping, and exploring the area.
A Castle in the Forest
Jim eventually married, and with his father’s help, continued construction on the one room rock cabin. Rocks were plentiful in the area, and a useful building material, which Jim took advantage of. Friends, family, and passersby began to comment on Jim’s cottage and stonework. Especially with the 40foot round water tank, he had surrounded by rocks. They kept asking if he was building a castle or would comment that it looked like the beginnings of a castle. And after years of hearing this, Jim thought that maybe a castle wouldn’t be such a bad idea. After, all, who would not want a castle?
What does it Look Like?
The castle stands at over 100 feet tall. It also has the Andreatta Tower, and a steeple added on to the top of the masonry making it a soaring 160 feet in the air. The castle has windows, stairs, complex layouts and a striking use of geometry. Wooden forms were later accompanied by steel. The iron structural work set the foundation for some of the towers and walls, all then surrounded by stone.
A twisted hand railing in one of the towers is remarkable. The inner roof support trusses and the central arch are also incredibly detailed. Perhaps the most surprising thing of all is that Jim Bishop did all of this with his own two hands and without any assistance. This fact alone adds a shock factor that one man can actually build a castle. As you admire all the handiwork and finite details of Bishop Castle remember that one man alone created this wonder.
Fire Breathing Dragon
What is a castle without a fire breathing dragon? Bishop Castle won’t disappoint you because the castle has its very own fire breathing dragon. A friend of Jim Bishop’s was taking an enormous load of stainless steel to the landfill. He thought of Jim and how he might be able to out some use to all the steel instead, which Jim sure did. He made a chimney out of the steel, making what looked like scales on it, with a dragon’s head at the top. A hot-air balloon burner was donated, which Jim used to shoot fire out of by placing it on the dragon’s head, thus creating a fire-breathing dragon for his castle. The dragon spits out its fire most weekends during the summer months. The fire breathing dragon is a must see for your visit to the castle.
Free for You
With a castle looming above the San Isabel National Forest, it is only natural that people will be curious and shocked. Therefore, it is no wonder that they want to stop and see such a creation. And you won’t believe it when you get there, but this masterpiece of construction is free of admission! As a kid, Jim couldn’t afford the admission of most places, and this has left its mark on Jim. That is why Jim wants his dream and hard work to be free of admission to people. A donation box is available, and proceeds go to help fund construction items. So the castle can continue to grow, along with Jim’s dreams.
The Bishop Castle Today
The Castle today still stands, and it is continually under construction. Jim says his work will eventually be finished, but he wants to see how much he can build. Future plans are in the works to add new features such as a drawbridge, and a moat, among other ideas. When visiting, keep in mind that this is an active construction site. The work on the castle is continuous, and Jim is a busy man.
Watch where you step, and have respect for this man-made work of art by properly disposing of your trash and leaving as little presence as you can. The castle represents the American dream of a hardworking man accomplishing great feats by determination and hard work which you can clearly see in Bishop Castle Colorado. Enjoy the three stories of Jim’s creation, a grand ballroom, a fire-breathing dragon, bridges, and air born towers. Jim might be around if you can catch him to talk to him, and meet the man who accomplished his dream with his own two hands.