March 2010
--> Jan    
Colorado vs. Oregon... The ugliest eye sore in the Rockies... "You're not crazy..."
Filed under: General
Posted by: James Johnston @ 11:03 pm

This is the next to last post that involves the state of Colorado.  I think Colorado is the second most scenic state in the Lower 48.

Colorado is a lot like Oregon, where I'm from.  It is a squarish shaped state, divided in two by a mountain range.  At 104,000 square miles, Colorado is the 8th largest state.  Oregon, at 98,000 square miles, is the 9th largest.  Oregon has the 4th highest percentage of federal land (53%, with 15.6 million acres of national forests).  Colorado has the 10th highest percentage (37% with 24 million acres of national forest land). 

The biggest difference between Colorado and Oregon as far as I'm concerned is the scale and intensity of development within national forest lands.  National Forests in Oregon may have the occasional inholding or resort, but in general when you're driving in an Oregon national forest all you see is... forest.

In Colorado it doesn't seem like you can drive Forest Service roads for more than a couple dozen miles (usually less) without encountering ranchettes, developments, resorts, etc., etc.  

Part of it is that Colorado has a somewhat more extensive history of mining, which left more inholdings.  It has to have a lot to do with differences in land use regulation.  Until recently, Oregon had the strongest land use planning in the country.  It's hard to develop forestland.  

Maybe the biggest difference is demographics.  Colorado and Oregon are the same size, but Colorado has a million more people.  

Here's a photo of the ugliest of the many ugly developments I encountered traveling roads within Colorado national forests. 

[Jim Bishop: "The only thing ugly in the photo below is the jet trails, also known as chemtrails."]

This atrocity is known as "Bishop's Castle."  It was designed and built by one Jim Bishop, who is a character, or a total idiot, depending on who you ask (I say if he were any smarter he'd be an idiot).  He acquired this tiny parcel within the Pike-San Isabel National Forest outside of Pueblo, CO thirty years ago and has been slowly building the castle ever since.  His latest addition is a moat.  

[Jim Bishop: "As far as BC being an 'atrocity,' then the gates to Central Park, the painting on the Sistine Chapel and Familia Sagrada in Barcelona, Spain are also atrocities. As far as JB being an 'idiot,' then Jean Paul and Cristo, Michelangelo and Antoni Gaudi are also idiots. The 'tiny parcel' was acquired 50 years ago, not 30. The 'latest addition' is not a moat, but the dungeon foundation of the great wall around the 2 1/2 acre property with four corner towers, gatehouse and useful rooms all around. Three stories in front along the highway, and two stories everywhere else."]

Jim is what you'd call an anti-government nut.  The whole area is festooned with signs explaining why you don't have to pay income taxes or get a drivers license.  According to a Forest Service employee I talked to, most of the rocks that went into construction were stolen from adjacent Forest Service land.  Both the Forest Service and the state of Colorado and the Forest Service have fought a long-running battle with Bishop over the rocks, building permits, etc., etc.  Jim appears to have outlasted them.  

[Jim Bishop: "I am pro-government. The true government is the people. These same people benefit from Bishop Castle, as well as the forest. All I have is 2 1/2 acres, which was not solid woods but instead a clearing in the middle where Bishop Castle now sits. The Castle draws people from all over the world, spending money in the adjacent area: campgrounds, hunting, fishing. You cannot steal something that belongs to no one. I am performing a service by retrieving rocks that the state and county road crews had to move out of ditches anyway. Finally, I intend to outlast everyone. Lately I have evidence that the Forest Service is following rules not of the U.S. but the U.N."]

"Well, don't quote me..." said one Forest Service employee I talked to.  So I guess I won't quote him.  But the Forest Service appears to have essentially given up on trying to restrain the bizarre behavior of their unruly neighbor.

[Jim Bishop: "I do not agree with this description of building the largest true castle left in the world all by myself because, referring to the Latin phrase 'cui bono' (who benefits) everyone benefits from the Castle. Do you call that bizarre?"]

On any given day Bishop's Castle is not only the worst eyesore in the Rocky Mountains but also a genuine hazard to motorists.  (Everyone stops to gawk, but there's no parking, so there's dozens of cars jammed alongside the road, pedestrians milling about, etc.)

[Jim Bishop: "People have committed suicide and fallen off the Royal Gorge Bridge. That is a hazard. At Bishop Castle one elderly lady who wanted to see the Castle one last time passed away from old age. That is the only incident. As to parking, there are people coming from all over the world to use this great facility - inspirational, educational, entertaining, for the public good. 'World' to me refers to world travelers, not one world currency or the New World Order. And yes, Mr. James Johnston, some trees will have to go for the parking lot on the adjacent land. People are not just 'milling around': they are enjoying themselves, free, donation-box only."]

"You have to sign the guest book before you go up to the top," a crazy looking older lady told me as I contemplated the weird Kievan Rus meets Monty Python minarets and leafed through the anti-government propaganda.

[Jim Bishop: "If it is researched and proven it is not propaganda."]

"I think I'll just, uh, stay on the ground," I told her.

"Well, you still have to sign in," she said.  ""It's a release of liability when you sign the book."

"Oh, don't worry about that," I told her.  "I'm a sovereign citizen.  I'm not bound by any Article III courts."  I held up one of the pamphlets.

[Jim Bishop: "Mr. Johnston, you probably do not know the first thing about Article III courts, and probably have never heard of the 'saving to suitors' clause of the first Congress, 1st Judiciary Act, chapter 20, page 77 - that saves to suitors in all cases the right to common law remedy, including inland seizure."]

"Oh!  Well, of course."  She looked a little hurt.  "But you still have to sign in.  And, um... that's a really pretty pooch, but there's no pets allowed."  She pointed to a sign:  NO PETS.  

[Jim Bishop: "The sign said, 'Control your Kids and Pets' - BC is pet-friendly. As long as people pick up after their dogs they are welcome."]

"This is a service animal," I told her.  

She put her hands on her hips.  "You're not disabled."  

"I have a social anxiety disorder," I told her.

She wagged her finger at me.  "You're not crazy," she exclaimed.  

They were on to me.  

[Jim Bishop: "Mr. James Johnston, I am on to your implication. I respect you and your profession as a forester, planting trees and protecting the forest, and not moving moss rocks, etc. but I truly believe you have the wrong idea about my project."]

Jim Bishop, Castle Builder