Jerry Chubbuck would certainly recognize Jim Bishop’s obsession with looking up.
In 1967, he purchased the Wonder View Tower, a roadside attraction that Charles W. Gregory and his partner, Myrtle LeBow, had built in 1926 outside the old railroad/ranching town of Genoa on the eastern plains, on the highest spot between Denver and Kansas City — or Denver and Chicago, or Denver and New York, depending on who was doing the talking and who was doing the measuring.
Starting at 5,900 feet, they built a wooden tower with 87 rickety steps leading to a balcony from which you could see six states — and to make sure people caught that view, Gregory would stand up there with a bullhorn, yelling at drivers passing by on Highway 24, urging them to visit the Wonder View Tower.
To keep visitors there longer, he added a cafe at the base made with rocks from every state in the Union.
And in the four decades that followed, Gregory not only added more rooms, but started filling them with amazing art and artifacts. When Chubbock bought the Wonder Tower, he moved his family into the apartment in front and kept adding to the collection, creating an Animal Monstrosities Room that held a two-headed calf and an eight-footed pig, and devoting another area to his Indian arrowheads as well as a 75,000-year-old Imperial mammoth skeleton found in nearby Cheyenne County.
Before he was done, the complex was crammed with fabulous items and like Bishop Castle, currently under siege in southern Colorado, it rated a chapter in roadsideamerica.com.
But in 2013, Chubbuck passed away, and the Wonder View closed for good — except for three days last September, when its contents went on the block in an auction advertised around the world.
After the auction cleaned out the place — or close enough — the Chubbuck family put the tower on the market. It’s now listed for $175,000 with the Gordon Real Estate Group in Limon, and although a few parties have toured the property, no offers have come close.
That means there could still be time for someone to raise the funds to save the Wonder View Tower as a tourist attraction, says Troy McCue, executive director for the Lincoln County Economic Development Corporation. “There’s been quite a bit of conversation at the nonprofit level,” he says. “It would be a great asset for the county, a great draw for Genoa."
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And all-but-abandoned Genoa, which weathered a severe storm just two weeks ago, could certainly use the help. But it would take a lot of work to bring the building up to code and make it ADA-compliant, McCue notes. “It’s almost like you need a ringleader.”
Or another man with an edifice complex.
Need a road trip location this weekend? The Wonder View Tower isn't open, but just getting a roadside glimpse of this towering achievement is worth a drive.