| News |

Off Limits: A wild ending for Buckskin Joe, a great, shlocky tourist attraction

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

For more than fifty years, Buckskin Joe was a great shlocky tourist attraction in Cañon City, a real (sort of) Wild West town constructed in 1957 on a piece of land where Don Tyner had already set up his miniature Royal Gorge Scenic Railway. Photographer Karol Smith and MGM producer Malcolm Brown built the place using structures salvaged from old mining towns — including the HAW Tabor Store from the original Buckskin Joe two miles from Alma, which gave the project its name. That burg's founder, Joseph Higgenbottom, was known for his buckskin outfits; he discovered the Buckskin Joe Diggings in the area in 1859.

By the time Greg Tabuteau bought the new, improved Buckskin Joe thirty years ago, it had already served as a set for such classics as Cat Ballou and True Grit — and such clunkers as The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox. And Smith had gone on to become the founding director of the Colorado Film Commission, the first state film office in the country, established in 1969.

But the glory days of Colorado filmmaking are long gone, and Tabuteau finally sold his holdings — Buckskin Joe, the railroad, and the 806 acres that held both attractions — to a buyer he's declined to identify. Buckskin Joe closed for good on Sunday, September 12; rumor has it the buildings will be packed up and moved to a new location.


Buckskin Joe

Tabuteau held on to all the props from the "Town of Terror" Halloween attraction, which he hopes to relocate to Pueblo. "I love the Old West," he told the Cañon City Daily Record, "but there's only a small majority of us that still love the Old West."

Say it ain't so, Joe.

A smokin' deal: The Scarlet Ranch, Denver's most salacious swingers' club, keeps a low profile: There's no sign on the anonymous-looking building at 424 Broadway, even if the inside is filled with bumpin' tunes and bumpin' bodies on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Nearby residents have never been pleased with this neighbor, though, and the city's fire department has periodically warned club owner Kendall Seifert about safety-code violations at the building ("Swap Talk," June 22, 2006). But none of that stopped those who lived the lifestyle from showing up, and now Seifert would like to accommodate more of them.

Last week, he sent an e-mail to club members, looking for investors. "Scarlet Ranch is entering a new era, and I have the opportunity to purchase a much larger facility with onsite parking for several hundred cars. The building I am interested in is an 18,000 sq. ft. club situated on two acres located off Broadway, a short distance from our current location," he wrote. "I am looking for one or more investors interested in investing $300,000 for a period of five years. I am open to terms and willing to secure with business and/or personal property. The building is approximately $1,500,000. Scarlet Ranch carries no debt and has enjoyed aggressive growth since opening in 2003.

"I believe this is a unique opportunity to fortify the club's position as one of the top lifestyle clubs in the country," he continued. "During the worst recessions of our era, my club has maintained its standard of growth and performance demonstrated by a 23.46 percent increase in gross revenues for the period of January-August 2010 compared with the same period in 2009. Our current revenues support the increased operational costs of the new facility. If needed for review, my accounting is extremely simple and transparent. All revenues received through membership sales and nightly fees are recorded nightly and correlate with members' entrance."

Seifert couldn't be reached for comment, but watch the Latest Word at westword.com for updates on both the Scarlet Ranch and Louis C. Hampers, the now-suspended Children's Hospital emergency-medicine doctor who visited the club ("House Calls," July 1) and last week was charged with writing 654 fake prescriptions for generic versions of Vicodin, Valium, Ambien and Ritalin.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.