Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Nederland, Colorado and the Frozen Dead Man

How did Nederland, Colorado get its unusual name? Well, it began in 1871 when Abel Breed bought the silver-rich Caribou Mine and shipped the silver ore from Caribou Hill, elevation 10,000 feet down to Middle Boulder at approximately 8,000 feet because it was “warmer.”

In 1873, Breed sold the mine to a Dutch company, and the miners nicknamed the town Nederland. A year later, when the town was incorporated, the locals chose Nederland as the official name.

Nederland is notorious for the Frozen Dead Guy, who is celebrated in a winter festival each year. It seems that Bredo Morstoel, a native of Norway visited his daughter Aud and his grandson, Trygve Bauge in Boulder, Colorado. Unfortunately on his return to Norway, he would not survive a second heart attack and on November 6, 1989 died. Trygve and his mother owned land in Nederland and decided to use it as the base for a new business venture. They planned to build a cryonics storage facility and place grandpa there along with other cryonic bodies believing that one day they could be restored to life using advanced technology not yet developed. Bredo’s body was shipped from Norway to America in dry ice, processed with liquid nitrogen in California and eventually sent to Nederland.

Unfortunately, Aud and Trygve's business plan did not work out. Their visas were revoked, and they had to return to Norway leaving poor Bredo behind.

For almost 15 years, Bredo Morstoel has been in the hands of Bo Shaffer who is known locally as the Ice Man. Shaffer has been driving from Denver to Nederland hauling nearly a ton of dry ice up the mountain every month since 1995. It is an expensive trip that is paid for by the family. Mr. Bredo Morstoel still resides in his original steel coffin, packed in dry ice, surrounded by an insulated wooden box and sits in a Tuff Shed overlooking Nederland, Colorado.

For more information go to:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Wild Bill Hickok & Dead Man's Hand

Wild Bill suffered from consumption or TB as it is currently known, and so traveled west hoping the clean air would help his condition. It was not only medical reasons that drew him to Deadwood, South Dakota but also the lure of gold. Unfortunately, it would be the death of him because he died on August 2, 1876 at the hands of a drifter called Jack McCall who supposedly wanted to settle a score . He accused Hickok of killing his brother back in Kansas, and so cowardly crept up behind Hickok as he played cards, shooting him in the back of his head killing him instantly. A jury later acquitted McCall believing his story of revenging his brother’s death. McCall spent the rest of his life boasting of killing the infamous gun slinger.

The whole incident should never have happened because Wild Bill, conscious of those who wanted to kill him for the notoriety it would bring always faced the door in a saloon. Although he was ambidextrous and kept two guns in a sash around his waist, he always used his left hand to drink his whiskey leaving his right hand to draw his gun. On that fateful day, he took the only seat available at the card table, a chair that backed to the door and therefore he never saw his killer’s approach. At his death, Hickok was holding a very strong hand, a pair of aces and a pair of eights since known as the Dead Man’s Hand.

Wild Bill Hickok is buried in St. Moriah’s Cemetery, Deadwood with Calamity Jane’s burial site close by.