Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Castles of Colorado

I've been fortunate in my life to have been able to travel over large parts of the world, particularly in Europe, and I've seen a lot of castles. As a child/young adult I played games like D&D and I've always loved historical fiction and fantasy and other genres where castles play a role. So it was with some skepticism that I began to read Castles of Colorado, by Ann Westerberg. After all, surely there are no real castles here in the state I call home.

The subtitle of the book is "Scandals, Hauntings, and Tales of the Past," and I suppose that was my first clue about how this book would read. It is sort of a "coffee-table" book in that most people probably just pick it up in passing and glance through the pictures. I like to read my books however so when my wife and daughter brought this home after their tour of "Miramont" in Colorado Springs, I couldn't just let it sit there.

I have to say the book looks gorgeous. Lots of glossy full color pictures in perfect weather conditions amidst beautiful scenery. Of course I was right to be skeptical though. There are no real castles, at least by my definition, in Colorado. The author shows some good solid research though in providing a good summary of each of the places she displays within the book. Most are estates of one form or another but reading the history of each one was fun. I preferred that part to the "This room can seat 75 guests and overlooks the lawn and three tiers of trout ponds..." parts. I'm not much of a HG TV fan either. Each "castle" is covered as a tour, and then depicts the history of the dwelling as well as any scandals or purported hauntings of the property. There is also a section on "castles" that are no longer around.

All in all it was an interesting book, even if I don't consider a vast estate to be a castle just because it has decorative turrets and a round tower as part of the architecture.

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