Merchant offering historical Old Town tours
One of the best things about Beauregard C. Calhoun III is that he is dead certain of his history.
He'd better be, dressed as an undertaker and all.
It is in that guise on Saturday, June 2 that Charlie Irwin, owner of the Attic shop in Old Colorado City, will begin offering walking tours of the commercial area for visitors eager to learn about its rootin'-tootin' past.
“While on this 90-minute tour you will experience 150 years of true Wild West history,” reads a press release from Irwin, who will stay in the character of an Old West undertaker throughout. “Learn of the underground tunnels, search for the neighborhood ghosts, stand where 21 saloons once stood. You may even enter the infamous Red Light District where the ladies of the evening once waved to their gentleman callers passing on the gold trains.”
The cost is $10. Reservations started being taken this week.
The tour will start and end at the Attic, 2421 ½ W. Colorado Ave., after going as far west as 29th Street, where Old Colorado City had its original jail. The jail didn't remain there long, he explained. “They moved it (closer in). It was too far to drag the drunks.”
Irwin, a Floridian who has only been in the area about a year, is not the most likely historian for the area. He started getting interested while researching Old Colorado City before opening his business last August, and he's been at it ever since. “I did research on traffic and other boring stuff, but as I found out more about the history, I thought this would be a good location for tours,” he said. He also was influenced by a similar activity he recalled from Orlando, Fla.
In recent years, tours have occasionally been provided by the Old Colorado City Historical Society and by horse-and-buggy owner Mike Solano to his passengers. “but I felt I could go a little deeper,” Irwin said. “I went back through old directories and newspapers and found a lot of real history.”
As for “Calhoun,” the name of his tour-leading character, “that's an old family fake name,” Irwin said. “I don't know where it came from, but I thought I'd go ahead and use it.”
Otherwise, his tours will be an exercise in fact, not fancy. He plans to be careful to distinguish “tall tales” from truth. Anyway, in Old Colorado City the truth is often “more exciting,” Irwin said.
An example is his story about Bob Womack - the man who discovered gold in Cripple Creek - riding a horse up Laura Belle's stairs, drinking a shot of whiskey, then neatly backing the horse down. Irwin also plans to mention some recently colorful events, such as the buffalo from G&C Packing running loose on the streets and the candle shop fire that nearly destroyed the north side of Colorado Avenue's 2400 block five years ago.
One of Irwin's biggest challenges was finding the tunnels (used by otherwise-proper gents to discreetly avoid being seen crossing to the “bad” south side of the avenue). None are open anymore, but he said he's located a couple of starting points.
The ghost stories, while not based on “fact,” do accurately represent stories that have been told about four Old Colorado City buildings that reportedly have non- corporeal residents, he explained.
One response he expects, once he gets going, is locals coming forward with stories he might not have included. Although interested in new material, he pointed out that his initial script is already 6,000 words long.
He hopes to give tours “every night of the week.” He will only go if he gets 12 people - registration by at least the morning of the tour would be necessary - and he could take as many as 20, he said.
For more information, call 302-2962 or go to his website: old-colorado-city.com.
Westside Pioneer article