Bishop Castle is a three story castle that has been being constructed in a medieval style since 1969. Jim Bishop is building the structure and refers to it as a Disneyland for the poor man. The native stone that makes up the majority of the castle was obtained from the San Isabel National Forest and intricate iron work is featured in the building. The design and the building have all been done by Bishop in an effort to fulfill his dream of having a castle.
The public can go to the top of the 160 foot tall spire of Bishop Castle. The top is reached through the combination of open iron platforms and spiral staircases. There are hallways, staircases, rooms and even a grand hall featuring stained glass and wooden floors in the structure. A dragon head that produces propane flames is on the front of the peaked roof of the Bishop Castle. Bishop is hopeful that the castle will be complete before he dies although he has to deal with local officials that constantly claim the structure is unsafe and is being built illegally.
Jim Bishop has personally gotten and set over a thousand tons of rock each year since 1969 in order to create the Bishop Castle. Bishop feels that everyone wants a castle and continues to build despite problems with Washington bureaucrats that would like to charge him by the truckload for the rocks that he has taken from the surrounding property which is San Isabel National Forest. The Bishop Castle was not listed on the official tourism guides as an attraction because of the refusal from the Chamber of Commerce in Colorado. Now both of these have decided that Bishop Castle is marketable and that he turned unwanted rock into something useful.
Even though Jim Bishop has been working on Bishop Castle for the past few decades the inside is still virtually a shell with ornamental ironwork and cemented rocks. There are plans to include a drawbridge over a moat, a balcony large enough to accompany an orchestra and have a roller coaster attached to the outer wall of the castle. Jim even plans to build his wife Phoebe her own castle.
By the year 2005 there was the addition of a metal mesh done on Bishop Castle's top that rotates as visitors go into it. Children at the facility are required to be accompanied by an adult. Adult visitors to the castle have to sign the guest book which acts as a waiver of liability for Bishop in the event that something happens while you on the premises.
There is no charge for admission to the castle which is open during the hours of daylight. The facility can be found twenty-eight miles to the South East of Westcliffe, Colorado. When traveling to Bishop Castle from Pueblo use 96 west to 165 and turn south onto it; from here simply follow the signs. Anyone in the area of Westcliffe, Colorado should make it a point to visit Bishop Castle which although still unfinished is amazing.
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