On Labor Day weekend, our family headed south to Buckskin Joe's, an old west town which was built back in 1958 as a movie set. It was once known as the filming capital of Colorado. You can go here for a list of movies that were filmed there.
Located next to the Royal Gorge Bridge (America's highest suspension bridge), it's been a tourist attraction for many years. Apparently I was there when I was a young girl, but I don't remember much about it, just a few snapshot memories. John & I have talked about taking the boys there for quite awhile, but we just never made it.
Then my mom shared some very sad news with me. Buckskin Joe's had been sold. Not just to a new owner who would continue to run it, but someone who plans to disassemble all the buildings and move them elsewhere. I believe it will still be in Colorado, but no word as to what will be done with them when they're relocated. One of the nice things about its current location is that it's an arid climate which has helped to preserve the buildings for these past 50+ years.
So with a week left until it closed forever, we made the drive down on Labor Day. We got to see a couple of gunfights, check out the town and buildings, walk through a (allegedly) haunted mine, and enjoy lunch at the Silver Dollar Saloon.
They do a number of different gunfights with real firearms loaded with black powder. Everyone lines up along the boardwalk on the south side of town, looking for some shade in which to enjoy the show. Main Street's a couple blocks long, so I had no idea where we ought to sit, but we managed to get a seat very close to the action.
The first gunfight we watched was a comedy, which was a lot of fun and laughs. Later in the day, we saw a gunfight that was a reenactment of a real fight from years past. The actors did a terrific job, but it was kind of sad, knowing that it had actually happened.
There's a horse-drawn trolley which you can take a ride on to see all the sites of the old town. We passed on that and just saw it on foot.
You could get an old fashioned photograph taken, so we headed on over there after lunch. The boys weren't too thrilled at first, but if they didn't cooperate, their Pa might challenge 'em out on Main Street. So they gave up that argument and donned their faux old west clothes.
Somehow, I only got one son and my man. Not sure how that other wily son eluded me in costume. And yeah, they're blurry, but I don't think they really wanted me taking pictures in the place where they get paid to take pictures, know what I mean? Speed was of the essence. Clarity was a secondary maybe.
This old town even has a mayor. He's a donkey. For real. I'm not just insulting someone. He's a pretty laid-back kind of mayor.
After visiting a few more shops, we decided to head over for a ride on the Royal Gorge Scenic Railway. The little tourist train click-clacks along the 15" wide track to Point Alta Vista (must mean the viewpoint with major altitude), which overlooks the Royal Gorge Bridge and the Arkansas River. There's also a very nice train which runs alongside the Arkansas at the bottom of the Gorge which we hope to take one day. It's amazing to look at that bridge and consider what a feat it was to have built that in five months back in 1929. I think we would find it amazing to be built today, let alone over 80 years ago. You can read more facts about this incredible attraction here.
See those teeny tiny things on the bridge? Those are people walking across. Gives you some perspective on the size of things, doesn't it?
There's also a tram (America's longest single-span aerial) that runs across the Gorge next to the bridge, America's steepest incline railway, and America's scariest skycoaster. We didn't go over to the Royal Gorge, but got to see the bridge, gorge, and tram from the lookout point.
BTW, if you're an adrenaline junkie, you should definitely check out the Skycoaster. It's about 1,200 feet above the Arkansas River. I think my stomach would do flip-flops watching other people ride on that!
We had a wonderful time and I'm so grateful that we made it down there before it's closed and gone. I'm also very sad that it will be closed and gone - there's a lot of history there. Much, much more than what I've shared here. Personally, I'm hoping the new owner will make it available to the public again, although I sure wish he'd have left it where it is. But at least we can say that we saw it when it was here.
I'll leave you with my rascal husband getting burned at the stake.