William Koch, the energy billionaire is creating a private 19th-century Western village, with a jail, a saloon, and a train station, way up in the Rocky Mountains in a region dotted with historic ghost towns that passed away when the mines that supported them dried up.
Seventy-two year old Koch, who garnered his fortune in part by developing underground coal deposits in Somerset, Colorado, is constructing the out-of-the-way oasis near his Bear Ranch, a functioning cattle operation southwest of Aspen. The compound includes a 21,762-square-foot mansion with a wine room, an elevator, and his-and-hers mud rooms that overlook the 50-building frontier town. The house will be 1/3 underground.
A collector of Old West memorabilia, Koch has the only known photograph of Billy the Kid, which he purchased for $2.3 million at a Denver auction last year. He is planning to open the make-believe town only to his family and friends, not the public, revealed Brad Goldstein, a spokesman for the company Koch founded, West Palm Beach, Florida-based Oxbow Carbon LLC.
Goldstein refused to talk about the details of the town, which includes whether it will display Koch’s Western art collection, stating that to do so would be “just giving an art thief a road map to steal something.” Tom Newland, the Bear Ranch Project Manager also refused to comment, stating he made an agreement with Koch that “I’m not to discuss the project at all.”
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