Bishop Castle is very impressive monument constructed by Jim Bishop in Colorado.
It is a statue in stone and iron it is so beautiful and glory of not only having a Dream, but Sticking with your Dream no matter what.
And most importantly, need to believe in yourself and strive to maintain that belief.
Anything can happen! Three full stories of interior rooms complete with a Grand Ballroom.
Soaring towers and bridges with vistas of a hundred miles, and a Fire-Breathing Dragon makes the Bishop Castle quite the unforgettable experience!
Visitors are always welcome free of charge, and the castle itself is always open.
Young Jim Bishop in 1959 at the ripe old age of 15, paid four hundred and fifty dollars for a two and a half acre parcel of land, enclosed on three sides by the majestic San Isabel National Forest in southern Colorado.
He had his money saved from mowing lawns, delivering newspapers, and working with his father Willard in the family ornamental iron works.
Jim had dropped out of high school that year over an argument from his English teacher who scolded him “You’ll never amount to anything Jim Bishop!”
Ever since he was a boy, Jim drawn up towards the mountains visible to the west from Pueblo, and found a small 2-1/2 acre parcel one weekend on a bicycle journey with friends, asked his parents to buy it for him with his money.
So parent signed for the land deal because Jim wasn’t old enough to do for himself.
So for the next 10 years Jim and his dad went camping every summer on the land and did groundwork for family cabin on the site.
And Jim really enjoyed using the ax and the shovel, or pick in building the clearing with a drive up to it which is now, the yard between the cabin, and the castle and its driveway.
In 1967 Jim and Phoebe got married, a union they still enjoy to this day.
And in 1969 at the age of twenty-five, Jim decided it was time to start building a cabin in the mountains. Since rocks were everywhere, and free, he starts building a one room stone cottage…
At the 9000 feet elevation the summer building season is too short, the ground Snow doesn’t melt completely at 9000 feet sometimes not till June.
There’s so much that can be done in a couple months while still working in the ornamental iron shop to support the family.
Jim started to build his cabin, and then He and Willard start to trade off two week stints, one at the shop running the business and one up the mountain working on the family cabin.
This lasted until the late spring of 1971; till a new problem arises it is getting running water into the cabin.
Willard suggested putting a large metal tank he had on hand. To be gravity fed cistern that they’d have to have filled once or twice a summer.
Jim liked the idea, and construction began on the water tank. It is a 40-foot metal cylinder which Willard built stonework around.
Jim continued on to build his cottage. Throughout the summer, family friends, and couple local ranchers, and family members commented that it looked like a castle! What they’re building.
Jim heard that enough times that by the time late spring 1972 rolled around, his imagination start growing, and Mr. Jim Bishop started telling all that he was in fact going to be building a castle!
But Willard stated as a matter of fact that castles tended to be pretty huge and that he wasn’t going to have anything to do with it, too much work!.
Jim kept on building, and the construction that began for one room stone cottage with an Eiffel Tower shaped fireplace gave birth to this country’s, and maybe even the world’s, largest one man project ~ The Bishop Castle.
As the castle grew, and the word going around, of the guy up in the mountains who was pursuing the American Dream? So People start visiting more and more.
And Jim was asked many times if he needs help to build his castle.
For the first eight years, the answer was always sure! And in those eight years, not a single person ever kept their word and showed up to help.
Jim was frustrated at times and vowed that “By God, I’ve gotten this far by myself.
If you’re going to do something right, do it yourself! The castle being a one man project was born in the process of the doing and was not an original intention or a childhood dream like many people think.
So, Jim kept on building and building. And the Bishop Castle grew…
Many of the features of the Bishop Castle were discovered intuitively or stumbled upon as the building unfolded.
Some would even say “Suggested Themselves”. In the process of the castle building, Jim discovered that he also really enjoyed building his body too.
He even set up an old army wall tent in the clearing, where he would work out with weights for a couple of hours in the evenings after having built with stone and mortar all day!
He became increasingly involved in the weight lifting. Jim started describing the Bishop Castle as built by one man.
He had mastered with his father in the family’s Bishop Ornamental Iron shop welding and scroll bending and learning how things fit together for most of his life.
Jim did everything ~ hauling rock from the state highway ditches, felling timber and then milling it into lumber, building railroad ties into forms for his arches He hands dug holes up to 12 feet deep for the foundations.
Mixed all his own mortar, carried it, usually up, to wherever he was working, and stone by stone his dreams were being made manifest. Jim handles each and every stone in the castle.
The Dream Defined
Over the years the castle grew, more people heard about this phenomenon up in the mountains and began showing up in increasing numbers.
Friends told Jim that he should be charging some money off what was becoming an attraction!
Jim felt differently though ~ he hated it when he was a kid and couldn’t go to the zoo or the ballpark because admission for the whole family was too high for a bunch of working class folks.
Lot of paperwork without the aid of a lawyer, Jim’s wife Phoebe accomplished what many had told her was impossible on her own.
In 1984, she received a 501(c) 3 non-profit charter from the IRS which allowed her to create the Bishop Castle Non-Profit Charitable Foundation for New-Born Heart Surgery.
This formalized the castle’s ability to setup and maintains a donation box on the premises through which the construction is funded.
Phoebe also created the first gift shop on the premises, in a one room log cabin that the family had built directly across the courtyard from the castle, which she then operated for 13 years.
It was through the proceeds of the gift shop and the donation box that materials were purchased for the continued construction.
Though the management of the gift shop has now changed hands twice since Phoebe decided to stop doing it herself, the gift shop and the donation box, are still the primary sources of funding for the construction of the Bishop Castle.
The charity that the family set up, is designed to financially help local families with medical expenses for young children that aren’t covered by insurance.
Even though the IRS told the Bishops that they weren’t required to make any donations through the charity until the castle was completed.
They have managed the Charity for New-Born Heart Surgery, in such a way that numerous donations have been made over the years.
They feel like they probably have the only charitable foundation in these United States that was created and maintained by working folks!
Jim is often told that he must not be afraid of heights! The way he figures it, he began at the bedrock base of the earth and has been gradually building up, so gradual that as the height grew, he was as comfortable with it as with being on the ground.
The feeling has to be a lot like the difference between seeing a child growing up every day and not seeing them for a year at a time.
One is hardly noticeable and the other striking in its effect.
In 1994 Jim reached a point with the square Andretta tower, named after the family that donated the old school bells that hang in it, where he felt satisfied that it was high enough.
That didn’t last long, as in 1995 he built and installed a thirty foot tall steel steeple on top of the masonry.
Taking the total height to roughly One-Hundred and Sixty Feet! That’s about the size of a 16 story building! Jim has remained satisfied with the overall height of his castle to the present.
Though he’s recently been threatening to build one of the corner outer wall towers to 250 feet because a local zoning official told him he couldn’t build over 25 and he just added a zero.
Well today’s visitors to the Bishop Castle will find an impressively monumental statue in stone and iron that cries loud testament to the beauty and glory of not only Having a Dream.
But Sticking with your Dream no matter what, and most importantly, that if you do believe in yourself and strive to maintain that belief, anything can happen!
Three full stories of interior rooms complete with a Grand Ballroom, soaring towers and bridges with vistas of a hundred miles, and a Fire-Breathing Dragon. Want to know more about Bishop Castle Click here
Visitors are always welcome FREE of charge, and the castle itself is always OPEN. Please respect this trust and honor while visiting!