a picturesque little town about 45 miles northwest of Denver claims
more than just quaintness, beauty, and the ruggedness of the Rocky
Mountains to draw thousands of visitors. It also is home to
Grandpa Bredo Morstoel, more commonly known as "The Frozen Dead Guy.”
died on November 6, 1989 while at the family’s mountain retreat in
Norway and was immediately packed in ice before making the long trip
to Los Angeles, California, where he was cryogenically prepped and
frozen. Morstoel’s grandson, Trygve Bauge decided that his
grandfather should have the opportunity of potential immorality and
made the arrangements for his grandfather.
was kept at the Institute, while Trygve searched for a suitable place
to store frozen bodies. Grandpa Morstoel remained at the California
institute until 1993, when his body was packed in dry ice, shipped to
Nederland, Colorado, and stored in a garden shed.
Cryogenic suspension requires a body to be frozen immediately after
death to ward off physical decay, then maintained in a frozen
condition until the time when medical science may be able to restore
it to life. Suspendees are typically kept cool via liquid nitrogen,
but due to budget constraints, "Grandpa Bredo” was kept on ice.
Born in Isfjorden, Romstel, in western Norway, on
February 28, 1900, Bredo Morstoel married his wife Anna in the late
1920’s and the couple had two children. Working as the head of
parks and recreation until his retirement in 1967, Bredo was fond of
painting, fishing, hiking and skiing.
Morstoel’s grandson, Trygve Bauge came to the United States, to "be
safe from nuclear war.” The unorthodox young man was long haired,
bearded and enjoyed scoffing at authority, as evidenced by his many
particular actions. Well known in the Boulder area, Bauge was
convinced that bathing in ice water would prolong his life and founded
the Boulder Polar Bear Club. He was arrested at the Stapleton
Airport in 1986 for joking that he was going to hijack a plane, and
was arrested again in 1988 when he was caught trespassing on the
ColoradoUniversity President’s property.
point, Trygve was joined by his mother, Aud, in Colorado
and began to build a disaster proof house in Nederland in 1993. The
grey castle-looking house was to be a bomb, earthquake, fire and flood
proof house. Next to the sturdy structure was a small garden shed,
where the pair moved their grandfather. Soon "Grandpa” Morstoel was joined
by a body belonging to a man by the name of Al Campbell from Chicago. Bauge
had hopes of constructing a proper cryogenics storage facility, but it was
Bodies in cryogenic suspension are normally kept at about minus-320
degrees, but Morstoel and Campbell were held at a balmy minus-109.
six months mother and son lived in relative anonymity until Trygve claimed
that he was going to break the world record for ice bathing. Inviting all of the local newspapers, he immersed himself in a 1500-gallon
tank of ice water in February, 1994. Under the freezing water for
one hour and four minutes, he did in fact, break the world record.
But Tyrgve’s local visa time had run out and the INS issued
a deportation warrant for him. Declaring himself a fugitive from
justice, he managed to evade authorities for a little while but was
apprehended in 1994 and sent back to Norway, leaving his mother Aud behind
to finish the house and watch over the frozen bodies.
eventually given an eviction notice for having no electricity or plumbing.
Afraid the frozen bodies would melt she asked the local paper to plead her
case to the Town Hall. When the reporter told the Town Clerk about Aud’s pleas all hell broke loose. The Mayor, police and press raced to the
property, lights flashing. The shed was opened and the bodies on ice were
discovered. Within 24 hours the news became an international event with
reporters from all over the world arriving in Nederland.
town meeting was held but no one could find an ordinance stating why Aud
couldn’t have frozen dead guys on her property. An emergency ordinance was
passed stating it is illegal to have "the whole or any part of the person,
body, or carcass of a human being or animal or other biological species
which is not alive on one’s property". The ordinance, however, did not
cover the frozen bodies in the shed behind the disaster proof house.
Grandpa Morstoel was "grandfathered in".
Aud was soon
deported; Al Campbell was
reclaimed by his family, sent back to Chicago, and cremated;
man by the name of Bo Shaffer was hired to take care of Grandpa’s body.
At that point in
time, Nederland was not good-natured about Morstoel and wanted to
bury him. However, though Bauge was an ocean way, he
kept the "fight”
alive via Internet communications.
publicized the problem in posts on cryogenics websites and e-mail
lists. Eventually, cryogenics was explained to the Nederland town
fathers and Grandpa remained in the shed.
finally decided to give in and make a celebration of "Grandpa.”
falling apart, was soon replaced by a building donated by Tuff Shed
and a the Denver Fox radio station. Morstoel
an ice-encased aluminum casket enclosed in a large wooden crate stored
in the shed. Bo "The Iceman" Shaffer, an environmental consultant, is
Grandpa's current custodian. Shaffer became acquainted with Bauge
eight through internet communications. Once a month, Shaffer
and two workers take three-quarters of a ton of dry ice from Denver to
Nederland, open the homemade freezer box, fill it with the ice, check Morstoel's status, and then seal the shed back up again.
only did the town "give in”, but they wound up making a festival, of
the entire affair. Now, Nederland celebrates Frozen Dead Guy
Days in the late Winter every year. According to the Nederland
Visitors Center, the public response has been
and near-frenzied beyond our wildest expectations." Nederland
came a long way from passing a special ordinance in an attempt to
remove the body to holding a big festival in Grandpa’s honor.