In 1959, Jim Bishop convinced his parents to buy him two and half acres of land in the mountains of Colorado with the $450 he had raised from his own labor. The land was densely covered with trees due to the surrounding San Isabel National Forest and hardly ideal for construction. As part of a family project, Jim and his father began clearing the trees and building a cabin. Jim surrounded the cabin with rocks, and soon it was pointed out that the structure resembled a castle and Jim, now without the help of his father, or anyone, began his eternal project. Government Grief
Jim Bishop's project was bound to be a subject of controversy from the moment land was purchased for a young teenager. The massive structure made primarily of rock had to be supplied from a source, in this case, the San Isabel National Forest, which is federal property. The state of Colorado also refuses to list the castle as a state attraction, which does little in the way of ceasing the tourism to Bishop Castle. Jim Bishop is aware of his massive following and the public cheering for him, and believe that he has nothing to worry about in regards to the government, because the people are on his side. Funding a Castle
In 1984, Jim Bishop's wife, Phoebe, obtained a non-profit charter from the IRS allowing the Bishop family to receive donations in order to fund the expansion of the castle. Despite the touring of Bishop Castle being completely free to the public, on the condition of signing a guest book with outlined rules, many feel obliged to donate to Bishop's project. Through donations, Phoebe Bishop opened a gift shop within the cabin that was originally built by Jim and his father. The gift shop and the donation box continue to be the main source of funding for Jim's supplies.