Quirky Colorado - Oddities and Unusual
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
Springs and one mile west of Highway
A replica of the Hercules
Beetle of the West Indies marks the turnoff to the Museum.
John May Museum
710 Rock Creek Canyon Rd.
719--576-0450 or 800-666-3841
Brothel Museum in Cripple
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
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
Creek had ever seen.
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,
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.
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
Old Homestead House Museum
353 Myers Avenue
Cripple Creek, Colorado
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.
Tower promises a view of six states once you climb its steep stairs. On a clear day you will supposedly see
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
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.
The Wonder Tower
I-70 Exit 371
30121 Frontage Rd
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
Dying in Norway in 1989,
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
You can read the whole
Grandpa Bredo, by clicking
of America, updated May, 2017.
A fence made of skis in
Colorado. Though a little quirky, we
actually think this is pretty cool. Kathy Weiser,
From Legends' General Store
of America Coloring Pages - A fun way to color, learn and relax,
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