The Early Years:
Let's talk about being Inspired. Young Jim Bishop, in 1959 and at the ripe old age of 15, paid four hundred and fifty dollars for a two-and-a-half acre parcel of land enclosed on three sides by the majestic San Isabel National Forest in southern Colorado. It was money saved from mowing lawns, throwing newspapers, and working with his father Willard in the family ornamental iron works. Jim had dropped out of high school that year over an argument from his English teacher who yelled at him "You'll never amount to anything Jim Bishop!"
Ever since he was a boy, Jim was powerfully drawn up towards the mountains visible to the west from Pueblo. Having found a small two-and-a-half acre parcel one weekend on a bicycle journey with some friends, he convinced his parents to buy it for him with his money. So Willard and ma Polly signed for the land deal which Jim wasn't even old enough to do himself, and the family now had a heavily forested two-and-a-half acres at 9000 feet. Jim and his dad spent the next ten summers camping out on the land and doing the groundwork for a family cabin on the site.
Setting the stage for what was to come, Jim soon learned that he really enjoyed swinging an axe and wielding a shovel or pick in building their clearing with a drive up to it, which is now the courtyard between the family cabin and the castle itself with its driveway. It was in 1967 that Jim and Pheobe got married, a union they still enjoy to this day, and in 1969 at the age of twenty-five, Jim decided it was time to start building a cabin in the mountains they so loved. Since rocks were plentiful, everywhere, and free, he chose to start building a one room stone cottage....
The Birth of a Castle:
Snow doesn't melt completely at 9000 feet usually until the middle of May, sometimes even into June, so the summer building season is a short one, especially when you're dealing with mortar which cannot freeze while it's drying. There's only so much that can be done in a couple months while still working in the ornamental iron shop to support the family. Jim started building his cabin, and after a while, Jim and Willard started trading off two-week stints, one at the shop running the business and one up the mountain working on the family cabin. This lasted until the late spring of 1971, when the problem of getting running water into the cabin arose. Willard suggesting putting in a large metal tank that he had salvaged from a welding job to be a gravity fed cistern that they'd have to have filled once or twice a summer. Jim thought it'd be functional, and construction began on the water tank. It is a 40-foot metal cylinder which Willard surrounded with stonework.