Finding a literary landmark is a bit like finding a hidden gem. Look closely and you can find many different places that stand in tribute to your favorite authors. Fans of the Beat Generation in particular know just how great an influence Colorado was on the literary movement. From Kerouac to Cussler, there are so many places in the state that literature fans must visit. Take a look at these great literary landmarks.
My Brother’s Bar
2376 15th St.
Denver, CO 80202
There is no website. There is no social-media presence. There isn’t even a sign on the building. Yet, for those in the know, My Brother’s Bar is the must-stop location on any literary tour of Denver. My Brother’s Bar is the oldest, continually operating bar in Denver. No, you won’t find a lot of memorabilia plastered all over the walls and there is no giant sign indicating the famous names that have bellied up to this bar. Yet, look closely and you’ll find a framed photo of Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady and a even a framed letter back by the restrooms. Yes, the Beat Generation quenched its thirst at this legendary bar, still in operation today. One step inside and you will be able to feel the history in the room. Plus, the burgers are some of the best in town.
Neal Cassady Grave Site
Mt. Olivet Cemetery
12801 W 44th Ave.
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033
Speaking of Neal Cassady, his grave site is actually located in Colorado as well. Cassady was the inspiration for the character of Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac’s famous novel “On the Road.” In addition, Ken Kesey, Hunter S. Thompson and Allan Ginsberg have all written about Cassady, a major player in the Beat Generation. The small grave site is not well marked, though you can visit the site at Mt Olivet Cemetery. According to the records, he is buried in section 26, block 5, lot 6, grave 9. Make a trip to see if this is in fact his spot.
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Thomas Hornsby Ferril House
2123 Downing St.
Denver, CO 80205
Thomas Hornsby Ferril may not be one of the most widely known literary figures, however do not overlook this man’s contribution to Denver and to poetry in general. In 1979, Ferril was named the Poet Laureate of Colorado and in 1996, City Park named the lake “Ferril Lake.” Ferril was a poet unlike any other, hosting any writer that travelled through Denver at his home on Downing Street. In fact, it is reported that Robert Frost and Carl Sandburg both were good friends of Ferril’s and stayed at his home on multiple occasions. Perhaps one of Ferril’s best contributions to Denver is on display at the State Capitol Building. The words in the rotunda state “Look to the green within the mountain cup, look to the prairie parched for water lack. Look to the sun that pulls the oceans up, look to the cloud that gives the oceans back. Look to your heart and may your wisdom grow, to power of lightning and to peace of snow.” And of course, these words are courtesy of Thomas Hornsby Ferril.
Hunter S. Thompson Shrine
Snowmass, CO 81654
Hunter S. Thompson may be one of the most well-known authors from the state of Colorado. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, he briefly lived in Aspen for a while and eventually settled in Woody Creek. Thompson is known as the father of “Gonzo Journalism” and of course he is known for his works “Hell’s Angels,” “The Rum Diary” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” In 2005, Thompson committed suicide in his compound known as Owl Farm in Woody Creek, Colorado. He has a devoted following across the nation and a small make-shift memorial in Snowmass, Colorado. In an undisclosed location deep in the woods of Snowmass, the shrine was created in 2006 by a group of people that call themselves the Glorious Leaders of the Underground Movement or GLUM. The simple shrine includes photos, magazine coves, the “Gonzo Journalism” icon, some prayer flags and other small items in memory of Thompson. It is an oddly fitting tribute to Thompson, seeing that you can’t really find the shrine.
Clive Cussler Museum
14959 W 69th Ave.
Arvada, CO 80007
Best-selling author Clive Cussler may not originally be from Colorado, but he has certainly made himself a home in the Mile High City. Proud author of more than 50 books, Cussler is a best-selling writer to this day. Fans of Cussler’s works will also know of his other love – vintage automobiles. The Clive Cussler Museum his home to over 100 cars ranging from 1906 to 1965, all beautifully restored. Included in the collection is a 1906 Stanley Steamer, a 1911 Locomobile and a 1913 Marmon. As Cussler himself explains on the website, “Someday they’ll be looked upon as mechanical masterworks of art and receive the admiration that is given to the Van Goghs and Rembrandts.”
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.