Bishop's Castle – Beulah, CO

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Bishop’s Castle, a set on Flickr.

Nothing can prepare yourself for the moment you see the castle. Winding roads up the mountain, a sketchy cell phone call to the folk art GPS master – Narrow Larry Harris – to be sure if we were on the right path (yeah, I gotta adjust the app coordinates – it was a bit further up the mountain than I thought).

Jim Bishop is high, as he likes to say, high on a drug the government can’t control. It’s called adrenaline and after one look at Bishop Castle, you’d get no argument from me. Soaring towards the clouds for some 16 stories in all, it’s made from stone; hand selected, hand carried, hand lifted and mortared into place by, you guessed it, hand. Jim Bishop’s hands. He’s been working the site for nearly 40 years now, that is when he isn’t busy fighting with the government about giving it up. It’s surrounded by National Forest land, and they’ve been itching to get his for some time now. But that’s another story and it distracts from the sheer magnitude of what he’s created.

16 stories tall? No drawings. Towers and flying buttresses and rooms of glass and stone? No engineers. A fire-breathing dragon on the roof? No plans. No plans indeed, except for those in Jim’s head. (thanks Randy from RVRR for sharing your well-crafted insights, and letting me pass some of them along…)