This past July I took the bi-annual car trip from Indianapolis to Denver. I was looking forward to seeing some different and interesting oddities that can only be seen when one explores by automobile. I am firmly convinced that it is the only way to see our great nation. There were plans to see three, man-made Colorado oddities. Life rarely comports with our plans and two of them will have to wait for the next trip. I was firmly determined to see the third on the drive back to Indianapolis.
In Genoa, Colorado there stands a tower. That tower has stood there since the mid-1920's. It is called the World's Wonder View Tower and rests atop the highest geographic point between New York City and Denver. The tower was built by a huckster and show man named C.W. Gregory and is a bit of a tourist trap. It houses a museum of oddities and oddball collections and from its observation deck(the roof) you are told you can see six states.
Why so much interest in a run down, low brow tourist trap? The question answers itself. If you want the regular, ordinary, plain, mass produced, yawning boredom of the local Walmart - well there it is. But, how often do you get to see something truly unusual. I found out more via the wonder of the internet and added it to the list of stops. It was such a strange place, at least from my brother's description of it in a short story he wrote, how could I not want to see it?
Which leads to another strange attraction of which few people are aware, Chinese Wall, Montana. Montana is a monumental state filled with breath taking vistas and fantastic geological treasures. Its official nickname is "The Treasure State" and its popular nickname - dating from either the real cowboy days or the John Wayne cowboy days - is "Big Sky Country," both are appropriate. It is gifted with natural wonders from vast mineral deposits to an expansive horizon-stretching sky.
The Chinese Wall is one of the natural wonders of the west but few people have heard of it and fewer still have seen it, I must admit, I am one of the latter. Thank goodness for photographers and the internet because we are blessed with knowledge and images of far off places that stagger the imagination. The Chinese Wall is part of the 1 million plus acre Bob Marshall Wilderness Area in western Montana.
The Chinese Wall isn't as famous as Devil's Tower or the Grand Canyon, though it is a thousand feet high and 40 miles long, a monstrous wall of limestone that is part of the continental divide. Next time someone says they are traveling west to Glacier or Yellowstone or Devil's Tower mention the Chinese Wall. Most will be befuddled. It is a grand treasure unknown to most.
So, The World's Wonder View Tower is closed and it appears it will remain so - I was very disappointed and the Chinese Wall may remain unchanged and undisturbed for millions of years.
Why write about them on the webpage of a magazine called Irvington Reader?
The little neighborhood of Irvington is not some tourist trap nor is it a massive and ancient geological wonder.
It is a treasure about which few people have heard. It is a little off the beaten path. It doesn't sit at the entrance or exit to the highway. It isn't old for a mountain, but it is over 100 years old. It is filled with an interesting collection of architectural and historical treasures. When seen with the right kind of vision, it is a place of beauty, wonder and nostalgia that will endure once it finds its way into your heart.
It is, like all man made things, fragile, humble and temporary - remember the Chinese Wall. Unlike massive escarpments of lime stone, Irvington can perish. We must work to make sure that 100 years from now some middle aged guy on a car trip doesn't stop to find it closed.