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Quirky Colorado - Oddities and Unusual Attractions

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Quirky Colorado

 

Brothel Museum in Cripple Creek

Colorado Fun Facts & Trivia

Frozen Dead Guy in Nederland

Tropical Bug Museum in Colorado?

Wonder Tower in Genoa

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike-HeadlessChicken.jpg (201x250 -- 5747 bytes)

The town of  Fruita, Colorado holds an annual festival for

Mike The Headless Chicken Festival

May MuseumBug Museum South of Colorado Springs – Yup, the May Natural History Museum of the Tropics, located southwest of Colorado Springs, is a unique museum filled with over 8,000 bugs! 

In 1929, John M. May and his father began exhibiting a tropical display of insects at national exhibitions, flower and sports shows in many large American cities. Then, in the 1940's John May built a permanent museum and headquarters building on his ranch nine miles southwest of Colorado Springs. The collection actually contains over one hundred thousand bugs, however only the largest, most beautiful and the most valuable are on display, with the exhibits changing from year to year.

Imagine a stick insect from New Guinea which measures 17 inches long and looks so much like a bundle of sticks that it is invisible unless it moves, a nine inch scorpion of the African Congo,  the world's largest purple Tarantulas that actually catch and kill mice and small birds, and the ten inch wide Actius Moths of India that imitate the Cobra Snake to scare off their enemies.

There are Colombian Beetles so large that they can break street lights and knock a man down if they hit him while flying, moths that rob beehives and creatures that build log houses around themselves.

James F. W. May was born in England in 1884, but his family lived in Brazil, South America where he was raised. Mr. May's father was an adventurous man and for some years collected for the British Museum on the Upper Amazon River which, in those days, was virtually unexplored. He died of Yellow Fever which he contacted on one of his expeditions when James was only 8 years old; however, it must have been his father's influence that stimulated James to do his work in this field of Natural History. James' brother, Ted May, was the curator of the Government Museum in Rio de Janeiro for many years and independently built up one of the largest collections of Brazilian Arthropods.

 

The May Natural Museum is open from May 1st to October 1st and reservations are required for groups in the winter. Groups of ten are the minimum number of persons possible for winter reservations. The Museum is approximately 9 miles southwest of Colorado Springs and one mile west of Highway 115. 

 

A replica of the Hercules Beetle of the West Indies marks the turnoff to the Museum. 

 

 

Contact Information:

John May Museum

710 Rock Creek Canyon Rd.

Colorado Springs, Colorado 80926

719--576-0450 or 800-666-3841

 

 

 

 

Brothel Museum in Cripple Creek

 

The Old Homestead House Museum is a house with a history. The original 1890s brothel once housed several "soiled doves” catering to the area's many miners during the gold rush days. 

The building was built and owned by Pearl DeVere, the house madam, in 1896. The finest and most expensive house in the settlement, Pearl required the men to make a financial application before they could be admitted to the house, and then, by appointment only. Pearl was said to have been a beautiful woman and obviously popular, so when she died of a morphine overdose just a year after building her fabulous house, the area men were shocked.  Her funeral was the largest that Cripple Creek had ever seen.

 

Located in Cripple Creek’s Old Red Light District, tours include the history of the famous Parlor House, Myers Avenue, and the Cripple Creek Gold Rush. The Old Homestead is on Myers Avenue, one block from Cripple Creek's main street, Bennett Avenue and is open from Memorial Day through September.  Group rates are available and will also open anytime for group of 6 or more.

 

What’s really interesting is the museum offers admission for half-price to children ages 10-13 and free for children under ten. Children?? Go figure.

 

Another interesting note came from our reader Lindy in Elizabeth, Colorado who says that museum staff report hauntings in the old brothel. Once in a while, according to staff, visitors will get a funny look on their face and suddenly ask if there are ghosts at the museum. Obviously, they are feeling a presence of something around them. During recent construction, there were several reports from workers who said that the former "girls" of the house were watching them work. Others have felt someone touching them and sensed movement out of the corner of their eye. Several people have reported that there are three former soiled doves who continue to reside at the old parlor house.

 

Homestead Museum

Old Homestead today, September, 2009, Kathy Weiser.

Pearl de Vere's famous brothel is the Homestead Museum today,

Kathy Weiser, September, 2009.

This image available for photographic prints HERE!

 

 

Contact Information:

 

Old Homestead House Museum

353 Myers Avenue

Cripple Creek, Colorado

719-689-3090

 

Genoa's Wonder Tower

Rising sixty feet above the flat eastern plains of Colorado on U.S. Highway 24 east of Limon is the Genoa Wonder Tower. This one time popular roadside stop was built by Charles W. Gregory in 1926, a railroad engineer and entrepreneur. Looking a little like an out of place lighthouse on the vast prairie, the attraction initially included a motel, restaurant, and gas station. During this golden age of travel, these were referred to as "one stops."

When the attraction first opened, Gregory, touted as Colorado’s P.T. Barnum of the time, would stand at the top of the tower, yelling through a megaphone at passing cars enticing them to stop. 

Over the years, Gregory added to his dream by covering the wood-frame additions with stone and converting the interior into imitation caverns. The site became an official Greyhound bus station and a popular truck stop. However, when Gregory died in 1942, the property fell into disrepair and ten years later, when the attraction was bypassed by Interstate 70, it proved almost to be a death kneel.

 

The motel, station, and restaurant are long gone, but the tower itself still stands, continuing to invite travelers for a roadside stop. Inside, you'll find a large collection of Native American artifacts and animal monstrosities, including a two-headed calf. Looking a bit more like a flea market than a museum, you will also see more than 20,000 Indian arrowheads, fossils, a wide array of bottles and insulators, farm implements and other antiques.

As you approach this vintage roadside attraction, don’t be fooled by the cars parked outside the tower that are no more than rusting hulks. A ruse to make passing travelers think that crowds are flocking to the attraction, it gimmick further perpetuates itself with dummies peeking from the windows in the tower above.

Genoa's Wonder Tower promises a view of six states once you climb its steep stairs. On a clear day you will supposedly see Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, New Mexico and South Dakota. While this may be a bit of an exaggeration, the tower does provide a magnificent view of the high plains and the distant mountains.

Providing westbound tourists their first sight of the Rocky Mountains, this vintage roadside attraction is worth a stop to view its wide array of bizarre exhibits.

 

Contact Information:

The Wonder Tower
I-70 Exit 371

30121 Frontage Rd
Genoa, Colorado 80818
719-763-2309

 

 

Frozen Dead Guy in Nederland

 

This small village about twenty minutes west of Boulder celebrates Frozen Dead Guy Days, a festival held in late winter every year in this quirky little mining town. Honoring a cryogenically frozen man, who is kept in a shed in Nederland, the festival features a parade led by the Grim Reaper, a coffin race, a polar bear plunge into icy waters and much more.

 

Dying in Norway in 1989, Grandpa Bredo Morstoel's body was frozen and eventually brought to Nederland, where his grandson lived.

 

At first the village of Nederland was not happy with Grandpa Bredo's icy presence, but they soon "warmed" up to the idea, so much so, that it resulted in Frozen Dead Guy Days, in an effort to drum up tourism in this sleepy little village.

 

You can read the whole story of Grandpa Bredo, by clicking HERE.

 

 

© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated May, 2017.

 

 

A fence made of skis in Leadville, Colorado

A fence made of skis in Leadville, Colorado. Though a little quirky, we

 actually think this is pretty cool. Kathy Weiser, September, 2009.

 

 

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