Colorado’s weirdness explored in book that’s part of a series



Sterling Publishing Co., $19.95), by Charmaine Ortega Getz.

Headless chickens, flying saucers, animal mutilations and frozen dead guys.

Weird Colorado? That’s just the half of it, according to a new book by that name.

The 272-page book is part of a series planned for each of the 50 states (so far there are 10). It stems from the Weird U.S. book and former History Channel television program.

In it are numerous stories about, well, weird things.

For Colorado, that means snippets about UFO sightings in the San Luis Valley, unexplained animal deaths in Weld County and a rather famous dead guy in Nederland who has been frozen.

Though a travel book at its heart, “Weird Colorado” is part history book, too. It tells the tale of how Alferd Packer ate human flesh while trapped in the mountains in Hinsdale County in 1874, and how, more than a century later, students at the University of Colorado at Boulder named the school’s popular cafeteria after him.

The book, authored by Boulder resident Charmaine Ortega Getz, also highlights strange lights at various locations around the state, the unexplained disappearance of a CU professor and the real reason why there are Sahara Desert-like sand dunes in the San Luis Valley.

And, of course, no weird-story collection of the state is complete without Mike, Fruita’s famous headless chicken.

In a two-page spread, about as long as most of Getz’s synopses last, is the story about how Mike became so famous. (And for those who don’t know the story, that was back in 1945 when his owner in search of a poultry dinner tried to chop the head off one of his roosters and missed ... almost.)

Though the chicken lived for another 18 months, he’s still celebrated today in the form of the Mike the Headless Chicken Days.

Other local sites highlighted in the book include a short tale of how the town of Dinosaur, located just south of Dinosaur National Monument (not west as the book says) changed its name in the 1930s from Artesia to attract tourists; the “radioactive” hot springs in Ouray and Gunnison; and the hideouts near Maybell in Moffat County, along with the $30,000 in stolen silver coins allegedly left there by Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch gang.

Though not everything in the book is actually weird, it makes for an interesting guide for those who want to know the state better.


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