Breeality Bites

Denver is no longer the Wild West, but you can still chase the gold rush in Victor, Colorado

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To say that Victor is a place frozen in time is an understatement: The town is like a movie set of the Old West, complete with turn-of-the-century storefronts, creaky staircases leading to former brothels, and street lamps that bear an ornateness only found in the past. In fact, everything in Victor has that kind of old-fashioned detail, from frames that display the massive windows of each business to building-sized, hand-painted advertisements for candies and liquor.

But there is also the quality of stillness that comes when a town has gone bust; for all of its mountain-town grandeur, the lack of human movement keeps Victor mysterious.

One of the funny things about growing up in a place like Colorado is that throughout your life, you will continuously meet people from small mountain and plains communities that you have never heard of prior to meeting those residents. I was only in Victor because my love's band was asked to play the second annual Victor Steampunk Festival -- otherwise, I might never have known that this gorgeous antique of the Gold Rush even existed.

Over three days, handfuls of steampunkers wandered the desolate streets, selling wares, exploring abandoned mines, competing in costume contests and mingling at the grand Steampunk Ball. An outsider in stretch pants and Uggs, I watched, admiring their dedication and wondering what these people did or dressed like throughout the rest of the year.

Even with all the steampunk visitors, Victor seemed vast and empty. But the emptiness didn't equate to creepiness, something I would expect from a town where light switches are still two buttons and City Hall has a place to keep its horses. One night, we were invited to a former brothel above the Headframe Tavern (apparently a bar that once went by the way better name of Dirty Sally's) to hang out with some folks. I stared out from the makeshift apartment space and into the darkened windows of the other buildings on Victor Avenue, hoping I would see some 2 a.m. ghostly movement. I saw nothing but a quiet 1900s street with 21st-century cars parked along it.
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Bree Davies is a multimedia journalist, artist advocate and community organizer born and raised in Denver. Rooted in the world of Do-It-Yourself arts and music, Davies co-founded Titwrench experimental music festival, is host of the local music and comedy show Sounds on 29th on CPT12 Colorado Public Television and is creator and host of the civic and social issue-focused podcast, Hello? Denver? Are You Still There? Her work is centered on a passionate advocacy for all ages, accessible, inclusive, non-commercial and autonomous DIY art spaces and music venues in Denver.
Contact: Bree Davies