One Man’s Crazy is Another Man’s Castle

First off, Happy Father’s Day to all those men-folk out there who make a difference in the life of a child. Thanks for doing what you do!

This week, I take you to one of Colorado’s strangest roadside attractions. Since 1969, Jim Bishop has been making his very unique perspectives known from his one-man building project, a castle made of stone. If you ever find yourself just west of Pueblo, stop in for a visit. Just don’t ask Mr. Bishop about his views on the government.

One Man’s Crazy is Another Man’s Castle

In my next life, I’d like to come back as someone who makes something tangible. Maybe I could build zombie traps, you know, ‘cause I’m sure by the time I came back the zombie apocalypse would be the new normal. Or maybe I could build flying cars or cyborgs or the jars they fill with nutrient fluids to keep the heads of celebrities going long after their bodies died.
Bishop's Castle, started in 1969
With all of these are things, I can take a moment at the end of each day, and survey the work space, and see, with my own two robotic eyes, the physical output of a day. I can nod with satisfaction at seeing 100 brain jars, and say, “Yes. I did that. It was a good, honest day’s work.”

Seeing the fruits of such a job seems like it would be much more gratifying than looking in my e-mail “sent” folder to count how many e-mails I managed to pound out in a day. How ridiculous is it to measure productivity by the number of times I sent a handful of electrons shaped into pixels to someone who’s simply going to delete it about 12 seconds after getting it. How unsatisfying is it to spend day after day shuffling non-existent paper around and pretend to look busy by clicking the “Compose” button for the hundredth time that day?

In 40 years, will the only evidence of how I spent my time every day be a bunch of replies to people asking for TPS reports?

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately, after returning from my second visit to Bishop’s Castle in about 20 years. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s the work of one man, whose surname happens to be Bishop. He’s been working alone since 1969, building a gigantic stone castle about an hour west of Pueblo.

The first time I saw it, the first hints of towers were just emerging, and there was a scaffold leading to a wire frame dragon chimney. Rough framing of the foundation arches was in, but, it was hard to see it as much more than a squarish collection of large rocks mortared together. It seemed like, if it took him 20 years to barely get as far as this, that he was wasting his time on something that he would never finish.

Now, it’s undeniably a castle. There’s two towers, just like in the movie, and the larger of the two is over 100 feet tall. This huge structure was built by one guy, who has hauled large, very large, very hand smashingly large rocks up wrought-iron death spiral staircases, one at a time, and glued them into place. Today, you can easily see where the labor of more than 40 years has gone. It’s made a real monument.

And while a few decades ago it would’ve been easy to dismiss as some childish, crackpot dream of having a castle, today, it’s a crackpot adult accomplishment that can’t be undone with a few minutes and a delete key.

This all means that I’m starting to wonder if it’s me that’s the crackpot, and I’m looking around for evidence of my years of labor, and there’s less to see than a squarish collection of large rocks.

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