The Story Behind Colorado’s World’s Wonder View Tower
Nowadays, a tall tower that stands along US Highway 24 in Colorado’s Eastern plains is just a relic of the past, but that doesn't stop those driving by from wondering what it used to be.
The World's Wonder View Tower was constructed in 1926 by Charles W. Gregory and his partner, Myrtle LeBow. Gregory was a railroad engineer as well as a successful entrepreneur. The 65-foot structure was erected by the Rock Island Railroad at Genoa Hill and served as a popular roadside attraction for many decades. Gregory was known to stand at the top of the tower and call out passing license plates through a megaphone in an attempt to get the vehicles to pull over.
Views of Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, and South Dakota could be seen from the top of the tower - however, it required climbing 87 steps to get there. Hand-painted signs boasted the incredible 6-state view, a fact that was confirmed by Ripley’s Believe It or Not in 1993.
During the Wonder Tower's heyday, the US Geological Survey documented that at an elevation of 5,751 feet, the top of the building was the highest point between Denver and New York City.
Over the years, the original structure was enlarged and other amenities were added to the Lincoln County location, including a gas station, trading post, and café. Each of the tower's rooms had a different theme. During the 1930s, the tower’s café offered an all-you-can-eat buffet for just forty-five cents. For an extra fifteen cents, travelers could indulge in a T-bone or sirloin steak - what a steal!
The famous Colorado tower changed hands several times throughout the twentieth century.
During World War II, the destination operated as a major bus stop on a route that traveled between Denver and Kansas City. To serve passengers, the tower remained open twenty-four hours a day.
In 1967 Jerry and Esther Chubbuck purchased the tower. Jerry began filling the building with his quirky collection of artifacts, antiques, and odd curiosities. His unique items, such as a two-headed calf, an eight-legged pig, and a mammoth skeleton continued to draw tons of tourists to the tower.
As a result of I-70 being rerouted, visitation to the Genoa destination began to decline. With less traffic passing by, the café started to lose business. In the late 60s, the restaurant was forced to close for good. Still, people came to see Chubbuck's museum and the tower itself.
Following Chubbuck's death in 2013, the tower was permanently closed to visitors. Most of his impressive collection, which was an estimated 100,000 items, was auctioned off in September 2014.
The now-empty World's Wonder View Tower is considered to be one of Colorado's 'Most Endangered Places.' The iconic piece of architecture remains a prime example of early automobile tourist facilities in the Centennial State.
Several years ago, a group came together to purchase the tower. While exact plans have yet to be announced, the goal is to preserve the important landmark for years to come.