Bill Koch, the history-buff brother to Charles and David, is currently building an exact replica of an Old West town on his 6,400 acre Bear Ranch in Paonia, Colorado – roughly a 15 minute flight from his other estate in Aspen. The idea to build the town came from Koch's obsession with the history of the American West and what he calls the "stand-your-ground mentality" of the Old West, where you have to take care of you and yours. It's a fitting theme for a man that's been embroiled in many frayed relationships and their resulting lawsuits. Koch is also planning a 21,000 square foot mansion on a hill overlooking the fake town.
Here's ten fun facts about Bill Koch's replica Old West town as well as a few of his other holdings:
1) Koch bought the Buckskin Joe town, formerly an MGM attraction outside Cañon City, Colorado and a backdrop for 21 westerns, for $3.1 million in 2010. He's since moved the structures piece-by-piece to his Bear Ranch.
2) The town occupies ten acres and has five saloons, a jail, firehouse, church, bank, theater, and library.
3) Likely inspired by his troubled family history and marred relations with his brothers, Bill Koch's wish has always been to build family-centric compounds on his massive properties. "It all gets back to trying to create a place where I can enjoy life and enjoy my family and friends without having to worry about my enemies." He went on to add, "And I'm doing it because I can."
4) Beyond the utility as accommodations for Koch's guests, the town's 70+ buildings will also be used to show the history buff's enormous (one million items strong) collection of Old West memorabilia and art. Some of the collection's prized pieces include the only photo ever of Billy the Kid that Koch bought for $2.3 million, Jesse James' gun, Wyatt Earp's vest, Sitting Bull's rile, General Custer's flag, and a huge Frederic Remington collection.
5) The town's brothel is being repurposed as a guest house for his family visitors. Even as such, it will retain all the Old West brothel appeal – including beaded garters with mini-pistol holsters, call-girl ads, and pictures of real live 19th-century prostitutes.
6) Even the width of the streets are measured to be historically accurate, and are built just wide enough so that a four-to-six horse cart can pull a u-ey.
7) This fall, a former executive of Kock's Oxbox energy corporation who had been implicated in a scheme to defraud the company of $40 million accused Koch of kidnapping and keeping him imprisoned on the ranch for interrogation. It is one of 26 personal lawsuits Koch has faced.
8) In addition to the replica Old West town, Koch is also trying to push through land swap deal with the feds that would give the government some of Koch's other lands in Blue Mesa and Dinosaur National Parks in exchange for BLM land that currently cuts through his ranch.
9) Despite making his fortune on fossil fuels, Koch worked with Aspen Skiing Company on a renewable energy project to build a coal-methane converter at Oxbox's nearby Elk Creek Mine. The converter, only the 2nd in the US, now converts methane byproduct into electricity, and roughly covers Aspen Ski Co.'s entire yearly electricity use.
10) Besides his 6,400 acre Bear Ranch, Koch also owns a 42-acre Cape Cod estate made up of the former Dupont and Mellon family compounds, a 90-acre compound in Aspen that's made up of four existing properties, and a 35,000 square foot home in Palm Beach.
· Bill Koch's Wild West Adventure [5280 Magazine]
· Billionaire Bill Koch's new Colorado town is a private Old West marvel [Denver Post]
· Billionaire William Koch Accused Of Kidnapping And Imprisoning Executive On Colorado Ranch [Forbes]
· Buckskin Joe's themepark [Wikipedia]