By Susan Froyd
By Byron Graham
By Robin Edwards
By Bree Davies
By Josiah M. Hesse
By Bree Davies
By Susan Froyd
By Kate Gibbons
Want to see what else she'll dig up? Getz will be signing her book at local stores this summer; she's also started a blog, http://weirdcoloradan.blogspot.com/, where she'll update you on her finds. And to get you started on your own exploration of this state, she's offered up this list of a few of Colorado's many-splendored weirdnesses, picked with summer road trips in mind.
Top 10 Weird Places to Visit
1. Flossie McGrew's
1824 South Broadway, Denver
Even if you don't happen to meet proprietress Grandma Goth, this place is worth checking out for its eclectic, even bizarre inventory of used goods. Don't forget to take photos with the fantastic storefront in the background.
This tiny town, just minutes west of Denver, was founded in 1874, and nearly every old building has a ghost. Or so say the residents, who have stories of "shadow people" hovering around the stump of the former Hanging Tree, people in antique garb floating about in eateries, misty faces seen in windows, etc. And then there's the legend of the Hatchet Lady...
3. Canyon Pintado
Along Highway 139, between Fruita and Rangely
Strange figures, stylized animals and cryptic images left on rocks by ancient Native Americans can be seen at 400 known sites in the Canyon Pintado area, but only sixteen sites have markers — probably because such sites too often become targets of vandalism. You're free to look around for more; just don't touch 'em. Take a self-guided tour with the help of brochures you can pick up in Rangely, Grand Junction and Fruita, or find more info at www.rangely.com/CanyonPintado.htm.
4. Mike the Headless Chicken memorial
And speaking of Fruita, this Western Slope town is home to Mike the Headless Chicken. Even if you missed the annual May tribute to small-town wackiness, you can take a photo of Mike, immortalized in larger-than-life steel, on Mulberry Street. More information: www.miketheheadlesschicken.org/index.php
Go to the Our Journey website (www.ourjourney.info/Default.asp) and download a "train ticket" that will give you free admission to twelve Eastern plains historical attractions — several of them featured in Weird Colorado — before September 6, 2010. Particularly not to be missed:
5. World's Wonder View Tower
30121 Frontage Road, Genoa
This vintage tourist attraction was once a combination dance hall, motel, gas station, Greyhound bus stop and restaurant. It's none of those today, but it still has the prime lure: a tower from which you can See Landmarks in Six States! And if you can't find a souvenir in the eclectic clutter, then I congratulate you on attaining that yogic level of non-possessiveness that Gandhi spoke of.
6. Kit Carson County Carousel
Kit Carson County Fairgrounds
815 15th Street, Burlington
You may never see another amusement ride like this — a jaw-dropping, restored 1905 antique with the original, individually hand-carved and painted steeds. Not just horses, but an exotic menagerie of bears, giraffes and more, led by a single mythical figure, a hypocampus (half horse/half fish). The music is provided by the fabulous Wurlitzer Monster Military Band Organ.
353 Myers Avenue, Cripple Creek
Actually, it's known as the Old Homestead House Museum. But that makes it sound like one of Colorado's restored pioneer structures, brimming with historic wholesomeness. It's all of that — except for the wholesome part. The structure was built in 1896 for madam Pearl de Vere, with no expense spared.
Located near Colorado Highway 9, between Cripple Creek and Cañon City, Guffey has a population under thirty, and the mayor is a black cat called Monster. While Guffey has the only services around for 25 miles, it's worth a stop just to look around at the quirky rustic buildings, antique cars and art scattered about. Every Fourth of July, the population swells as people turn out for live music, barbecue and sports involving both live and dead chickens. For more: http://www.guffeycolorado.com/
9. Lake City
Fifty-five miles south of Gunnison is Lake City, a lovely little village surrounded by National Wilderness areas and chock-full of historic buildings — including the original courthouse where the nineteenth-century man-eater Alfred Packer was first tried for his notorious crimes. It has a history museum with an impressive display of authentic Packer memorabilia, including the dollhouse he built in prison. And just outside of town is Cannibal Plateau, where the less fortunate members of Packer's party are buried.
10. San Luis Valley
Yep, the whole thing. As former resident Christopher O'Brien, author of The Mysterious Valley, once said, "It's paranormal Disneyland." UFOs aplenty. Strange lights. Bizarre critters. Anomalous critters. Unexplained animal mutilations. Bigfoot.
But if you don't happen to stumble onto any of that, there's still the Great Sand Dunes, Colorado Gators Reptile Park, the UFO Watchtower, Cano's Castle in Antonito and so much more.
Stay weird, my friends!
Top 10 Things for a Newcomer to Do in Denver
Before I'd even rolled into town last month, I was itemizing the things I wanted to do in Denver this summer. The list included such ambitious intentions as "learn to snowboard" (A-Basin was still open, after all) and "bike to Boulder," as well as some tamer, more indulgent activities, like "drink lots of Old Chub," "check out local hippie bars" and "get some good Mexican food for once." I was also armed with suggestions from friends, all former Coloradans. Eat at Sushi Den, one insisted. "Say hi to Charlie Brown's for me!" another wrote. "You're going to get a dog when you get there, right?" a third asked.
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