Yesterday we took a little day trip to revisit Bishops Castle, about 80 miles southwest of here in the Wet Mountains. Steve and I had been there about 17 years ago and a lot of progress has been made in the ongoing construction of the castle since then. It’s a pretty drive since part of it is on the Frontier Pathways Scenic Byway and also goes into the San Isabel National Forest.
Jim Bishop began building the castle by himself in 1969. He works without plans, blueprints, or permits. According to Jim, he says that if you work without blueprints and make a mistake then you can call it art. For the past 8-9 years Jim has been working on a gatehouse with drawbridge, and a moat that will surround the castle. He gathers all the rocks himself from the land in the area.
As you might guess, he has been at odds with government officials over the years. But I believe they pretty much leave him alone now because he gets on very vehement anti-government rants and will talk a person to tears. We know that firsthand. He is very knowledgeable though and could probably recite the constitution word for word.
Jim made the dragon from stainless steel warming plates that came from a hospital in Pueblo and were headed for the dump. The dragon can shoot fire with the aid of a burner from a hot air balloon.
The castle has not been subject to building and safety inspections. There are several places that have no railings or walls where a person could fall to the ground from way up high. We carefully climbed several of the narrow circular inside stairways plus walked the ramps circling the castle on the outside.
Here is a view from the back of the castle. The large window was filled with colorful stained glass panes. The tallest tower is 160 feet. One of the towers has church bells that rang several times while we were there.
The elevation at Bishops Castle is 9000 feet and spring has not yet arrived to melt all the snow.
Jim Bishop has a welding shop in Pueblo which explains his talent making the wrought iron detail work.
This father took his very little daughter up all the stairs twice and wisely he hung onto her every minute.
There are no entrance fees to see Bishops Castle, however there is a box with a suggested donation of $5-10.
Jim Bishop and his dog. He claims he is not king of the castle.
Small herd of elk
There is only one Super Max in the US Federal Prison system and it is in Florence, Colorado, along the route we took to Bishops Castle. This prison is huge, huge, huge. This is just a small portion of it. The worst of the worst criminals who pose a threat to national and international security are here, including the Shoe Bomber, the Unabomber, and one of the Oklahoma City bombers.