Wednesday, September 8, 2010

R. I. P.: Tribute to Buckskin Joe's

For over 50 years there has been a real-live, facsimile of an Old West frontier town in my backyard. Now, you have to understand that since I started living full time in Colorado back in the early 90s I have considered the whole state, 104,100 square miles of it, my backyard. For the majority of that time I have lived less than 50 miles from Buckskin Joe's and the Royal Gorge Scenic Railway, but until last weekend had not been there.

Now, I know what I was missing. What a great place to take family and friends for a day of exploring, learning and being entertained by the hard-working seasonal staff that do everything from act in the hourly gunfights, to serve drinks during a magic show, to drive the horse trolley with a team of Belgians, to pose for pictures and sign the autographs for the excited youngsters.

That is why this past week's announcement that the town and adjoining train ride has been sold and will be dismantled and moved came as a shock to most and brought sadness to all that this ends a wonderful, fun-for-the-whole-family destination.

The buyer is being kept deep hush-hush and the accessiblilty to the reassembled town at its new location is unknown at this time. I spent a precious few hours there taking lots of photos, talking to the staff and poking my nose into all the buildings.

The history of the town is that its buildings were all moved in from around the state. The only one to come in from the town of Buckskin Joe, 2 miles west of Alma, is the H.A.W. Tabor Merchantile building. The rest came in from other mining camps in Colorado, gathered and reconstructed on this site by producer Malcolm F. Brown of Metro-Goldwyn Mayer.

The town was built as a movie set, and for a time this area was known as Filming Capitol of Colorado. Some of the great films that were done here are: Conagher, Lightning Jack, the TV version of The Sacketts, True Grit, White Buffalo, The Cowboys, and Cat Ballou, just to name a few.

While I was there I heard that someone may be writing a book on the arrival and departure of this attraction that has stood on 805 acres adjacent to the Royal Gorge. It surprised me that this has not already been done. I am hoping that someone will document what it takes to disassemble and reconstruct the 30 some buildings that stand in this town. A fond farewell to this well-loved tourist attraction and best wishes to it wherever it may go.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I visited Buckskin Joe with my daughter from England in 2009 and we had a wonderful time. We were looking forward to making a return visit in 2012. Alas that will now never be and this fascinating and wonderful attraction will now be just a memory. It will however not be forgotten because we have our photographs and video to remember our visit.
Let us just hope and pray that the new owner will be sympathetic and re-open to the public.

Somchai Chantananad England.