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COBWEB CORNERS: What could have been Manitou's 'Bishop's Castle'

By Mel McFarland

        One of the fun parts of doing this column is running across things that not many people have heard about. I have recently come across several stories that I think you will find amazing. Some are answers to questions raised in past columns, but most are new discoveries for me. Perhaps you have heard of these and can fill in more details. This new one is about a place in Williams Canyon. Last year we had a lot of bad flooding in the canyon, so maybe it is still there, maybe not. Ever heard of Will J. Carlin?
       In the summer of 1925 Mr. Carlin passed away. When his obituary appeared in the newspapers, his project was mentioned. According to the story, he had come here from Illinois. His father had been the state's governor, but the younger Will arrived in Manitou about 1915 with only $2 in his pocket. He was a sculptor, pianist and public speaker, active in community affairs. He took a variety of jobs around town, putting away most of his income. His bank account grew until he had enough money to purchase a piece of ground near the mouth of Williams Canyon. On this spot he would erect a castle. Now Manitou has its share of castles, but this one is new to me.
       Like Bishop's Castle in the mountains south of Canon City, it would be built using his own hands. He would carve out of the sheer sides of the canyon a medieval castle. He planned to use his castle as a center for education. He hoped to find it an expression of his love for the area and the arts.
       During the winter of 1924-25, the stones were brought to the site. Three walls were built and turrets were planned. The castle was barely starting to take shape when the exposure to the elements brought down Mr. Carlin. He took ill and died.
       I have been told by several people that the castle's remains are still there. The location is north of the US 24 bypass, on the east side of the canyon, not far up it. Several former Cave of the Winds employees have told me of seeing it over the years. Because the old road is closed after all the flood damage, what is left can only be reached by hiking.

(Posted 10/12/14; Opinion: Cobweb Corners)

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