Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

What's on your bucket list, before it's too late?

Denver has narrowly escaped destruction numerous times. When the railroads crossing the country in the 1860s threatened to skip the infant city altogether, leaving it high and dry on the plains, boosters worked fast to secure a line — and a future for Denver (and a fortune for themselves). A century later, near-disasters came from far more risky business: a fire at Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant, which another generation of boosters had wooed to the area at the start of the Cold War, unleashed plutonium in the air; the city was also shaken by earthquakes at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, caused by the injection of deadly chemicals into wells at the former WWII weapons facility.

And then the Broncos lost four Super Bowls, three under quarterback John Elway.

There were more mysterious portents of doom, too. In his 1968 book Criswell Predicts From Now to the Year 2000, the Amazing Criswell, born Jeron Criswell Konig, saw bad things in store for this state. "I predict that a large city in Colorado will be the victim of a strange and terrible pressure from outer space, which will cause all solids to turn into a jelly-like mass," he wrote. "I predict that this pressure will not affect any other part of the world but will be pinpointed at one particular city. I predict that without warning buildings will collapse to the ground in near silence trapping thousands in the rubble. The entire population will live in terror and fear. I predict that a state emergency will be declared and federal aid will be granted but as rescue units approach the city they will lose all semblance of solidity and will be rendered helpless. The people who attempt to escape in wild panic will be unable to move through the gummy streets. Gradually, as conditions ease, survivors will be evacuated but this will become a dead city and will never again be reborn. I predict this unfortunate community will be a victim of elements beyond our control and will always be remembered until the end of time. I predict the name of the city will be Denver, Colorado. The date: June 9, 1989."

But memories wouldn't have to be that long to remember the gooey destruction of Denver "until the end of time." Because Criswell went on to predict the end of the world itself, on April 18, 1999.

Both Denver and Planet Earth survived, of course, and even made it through the double-whammy predictions made by ninety-something Boulder native Harold Camping, who called for the Rapture to hit on May 21, 2011, followed by Armageddon on October 21, 2011. Camping has since gotten out of the predictions business, but the most dire forecast yet is still hurtling our way. According to the Mayan calendar, something really big is going to happen on December 21, 2012 — whether it's the end of times or the start of the next chapter of man's evolution.

Either way, there's not a moment to waste. In honor of Colorado's inevitable collision course with destiny — and all our previous near-misses — we're collecting a bucket list for this state's residents to indulge in...before it's too late. We'll share the best suggestions, and honor their authors, in our New Year's Guide, coming December 15, 2011 — which will give all of us just a year to finish off the list before the world itself might be finished off. Have some can't-miss Colorado activities? Send them to [email protected].

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun