Bishop CastleJim Bishop (1944)
About the Artist/Site
Bishop's Castle is being built by hand, by one man, in the small town of Rye in the San Isabel National Forest of Colorado. Jim Bishop started the castle’s construction in 1969 as a newlywed, with the plan to build a stone cottage for his future family; however, he continued to add to the construction until it became a full blown medieval-style castle.
The castle consists of three main stories, with the tallest tower rising to 160 feet – or perhaps even higher if one counts the winding staircase with a single iron bar on top, relentlessly quavering in the wind. Mr. Bishop’s family owns an ornamental iron shop, a trade that has been his day job throughout the years. As a result of this carefully-honed skill, the towers are connected by a series of beautiful wrought-iron bridges, intricately crafted like crochet.
Inside is a Grand Ballroom fashioned like a Gothic church, with stained glass windows shining in on the interiors. But the real showpiece of the castle is the dragon, with scales riveted together from salvaged stainless steel hospital trays. When Jim received a donated burner from a hot air balloon, he installed it at the back of the dragon’s throat, allowing the dragon to breath fire. The vents from the ballroom’s fireplace are also positioned to make smoke fume from the serpent’s nostrils.
Jim Bishop built the castle for working class people like himself, and plans to always allow the castle to be open and free to the public, with only a requested donation. He has strong Libertarian politics, and does not like any interference from local authorities regarding what he can and cannot do on his property. Because the castle is not built to code and is always in the process of construction, there has been no way to insure the building; as a result, there have been many attempts made to restrict public access. Visitors enter at their own risk and are asked to sign a liability waiver as they approach the entrance.
Bishop’s Castle is a work in progress that Jim Bishop promises to continue until the day he dies. When I visited, Mr. Bishop was outside digging his moat. I pray it will someday be outfitted with a drawbridge…and hopefully sharks and alligators.
~Irene Rible (2013)
The drive to Bishop Castle will take you over 9,200 feet above sea level along the Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway.
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 it's 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.
SPACES Archives Holdings
1 folder: correspondence, documents
Map & Site Information
1529 Claremont Avenue
Pueblo, Colorado, 81004 us
Latitude/Longitude: 38.2406872 / -104.6290191
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Clayton, New Mexico
Boise City, OK