Jun 05

The quirky curiosities of Nederland, Colorado

by in Festival, History, North America, World Travel Blogger

This month’s World Travel Blogger, Shara Johnson, lives in Nederland and it sounds like one of the quirkiest places in America! Discover why here …

I love running across the accounts of people who have visited my small town, Nederland, Colorado. Almost without fail, their assessment of Nederland includes an adjective in the family of quirky, unique, or interesting.  Located along the Peak-to-Peak Scenic Byway, tucked inside the Rocky Mountains, most visitors come looking for the outdoor activities provided by the national forests and wilderness areas. In summer, plentiful hiking, camping, fishing, bicycling; in winter, skiing and snowshoeing, and if you know where to go, you can fly down some wicked sledding runs.

Indian Peaks Wilderness Nederlands USA

Our biggest claim to fame comes from our world-renowned winter festival, Frozen Dead Guy Days. The festival was inspired by a very quirky event of the 1990s, in which an illegal immigrant living in Nederland starting freezing dead people in his homemade cryogenics facility and storing them outside in a Tuff Shed. He was eventually deported, home cryogenics were banned, two of the bodies were assigned more appropriate resting places, and one, the immigrant’s grandfather, remains to this day in a fog of dry ice locked inside a Tuff Shed. Naturally, this is cause for celebration in my town – a town which let a dog run for mayor one year. The most popular events include Grandpa’s Blue Ball (get it?) wherein the Ice Queen is crowned, the parade of hearses, the polar plunge, and the highlight: Coffin Races.

Coffin Race Nederland USA

But not everything about us is quite so twisted. At the other end of the spectrum, one of the sweetest diversions you’ll ever find is the Carousel of Happiness. Unobtrusively located at the far end of the grocery store’s parking lot, each animal was envisioned, hand-carved and painted by a local man over the course of 30 years. These are not your typical carousel animals, they’re whimsical and unique, and people come from all around Colorado to ride them – even I get on from time to time. At $1 per ride, it’s about the best dollar you can spend.

Carousel Happiness Nederland USA

Another random resident of Nederland is the last operational Bucyrus 50-B tracked Steam Shovel, the only survivor of the fleet which dug the Panama Canal. It’s a long way from home here, imported years ago for use in the local mining industry. It’s been featured on the History Channel, and during another of our town’s signature festivals, Miner’s Days, you can climb in and operate the levers and blow the whistle. If you care to test your strength and speed at such tasks as shoveling dirt into a mining cart, hand drilling into rock, or wood chopping, Miner’s Days is the festival for you.

Bucyrus Steam Shovel Nederland USA

From moose getting trapped in the skateboard park (a sad incident) to schoolchildren being banned from recess while the mountain lions finish eating the deer kill on the soccer field; a microbrewery where your dog can come inside and drink with you (Very Nice Brewery); spectacular 4th of July fireworks over the reservoir; winter winds that deposit Christmas trees, beanbags and your own chimney in your yard; springtime fields of blue columbines (the state flower); the Nedfest music festival sporting well-known national acts; and a healthy dose of colorful local characters, there is always something fun, different and quirky to be experienced in my beautiful little town of Nederland.

Columbine Nederland USA

 Shara Johnson is a proud resident of Nederland and runs the Cozy and Quiet B&B Studio through Airbnb, located in the very house in which the animals of the Carousel of Happiness were carved. You can follow her adventures traveling abroad at SKJtravel.net, friend her on Facebook and follow on Twitter @SKJtraveler. 

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19 Responses to “The quirky curiosities of Nederland, Colorado”

  1. From Zoë Dawes:

    Shara – the crazy attractions in Nederland are the epitome of quirky travel! Love the way festivals and activities link to local history in such a bonkers way 😉

    Posted on June 5, 2013 at 12:33 pm #
  2. From mary curcio:

    You forgot to add that Nederland is home to the “Best Toffee” in Colorado! Melt in your mouth Tungsten Toffee!

    Posted on June 5, 2013 at 4:48 pm #
  3. From Shara:

    I knew my town would fit right in with your website’s theme. 🙂 And we’re only 30 minutes away from Boulder, a city beloved by many. Only we’re way cooler. 🙂 (literally, actually, being 3,000 feet higher … another silly event is one very hot weekend day, tons of people came up from the flatlands to escape the heat and the town sold out of ice cream.)

    Posted on June 5, 2013 at 8:05 pm #
  4. From Zoë Dawes:

    Love the description of that toffee Mary. Not sure if Tungsten means the same in USA but here I think it is one of the strongest metals so the idea of it melting your mouth is brilliant!

    Posted on June 6, 2013 at 9:15 am #
  5. From Zoë Dawes:

    Sounds like a veritable quirky haven Shara – hope you get another great sumer and lots of visitors to try out your many wonderfully bonkers attractions 🙂

    Posted on June 6, 2013 at 9:17 am #
  6. From Shara:

    Tungsten is indeed a very strong metal. It was mined here in the Nederland area in the early 20th century, so actually a lot of things here are named after it, such as restaurants, etc. And yes, there are many many more quirky and fun things to say about Ned, but you know, 500 word limit … 🙂

    Posted on June 6, 2013 at 6:33 pm #
  7. From Zoë Dawes:

    Thanks for clarifying that Shara. You have certainly whetted our appetite for your home town and hopefully visitors will flock there to see more of those quirky and fun things!

    Posted on June 7, 2013 at 10:02 am #
  8. From Kelly:

    Nederland is one of my favorite places to be in the world. Go and visit it to see what I mean, and stay with Shara & Erik in their lovely home in their Cozy and Quiet B&B studio (which you can find on Airbnb.com website). I guarantee you will find kind hospitality in Nederland, good food, scenic views, good music, trails for hiking, good skiing, good beer, fresh air, Rocky Mountain views, absolutely beautiful wildflowers and you might even see an elk or a mountain lion, or big horn sheep or two! It would be worth the trip 🙂

    Posted on June 7, 2013 at 10:50 am #
  9. From Zoë Dawes:

    It certainly sounds a great town Kelly – and sure that Shara’s B&B Studio would be a quirkilicious place to stay.

    Posted on June 7, 2013 at 11:52 am #
  10. From Lori Robinson:

    so nice to learn about where you live. Lots of festivals but all of them are just ‘off’ the main stream of the parades and activities most towns have.
    Lori from AfricaInside.org

    Posted on June 7, 2013 at 1:54 pm #
  11. From Shara:

    For the record, regarding my studio, “B&B” stands for “beer and bed” rather than “bed and breakfast.” It’s a self-catering deal so I don’t cook you breakfast, but I do put some beer in your fridge. 🙂 Is that quirky??

    Posted on June 7, 2013 at 3:28 pm #
  12. From Zoë Dawes:

    You’re so right Lori – very different from the run of the mill festivals most towns get up to! And yes, Shara, VERY quirky 😉

    Posted on June 8, 2013 at 12:17 pm #
  13. From Shara:

    Lori, and when we DO have a parade … 4th of July, Frozen Dead Guy Days, and Miner’s Days, our town is so small that the parade circles around twice! (to make it worth the while of coming to watch it) ha ha … another bit of silliness.

    Posted on June 8, 2013 at 4:15 pm #
  14. From Bridget @ GreenGlobalTravel:

    Colorado looks like a beautiful place. Great article- Nederland looks like a fun town to visit.

    Posted on February 27, 2014 at 3:46 pm #
  15. From Zoë Dawes:

    Yes, Bridget, Colorado certainly looks like it has some big attractions and Nederlad VERY quirky!

    Posted on February 28, 2014 at 9:19 am #
  16. From Angela:

    Beautiful Colorado! Quite a great place to be!

    Posted on January 15, 2018 at 10:59 am #
  17. From Zoe Dawes:

    I’ve never been to Colorado Angela but reading this article shows it is definitely a very quirky place 🙂

    Posted on January 16, 2018 at 12:47 pm #


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