Bishop bought the land for the site for $450 when he was 15, and construction on what was originally intended to be a family project to build a cottage started in 1969. After Bishop surrounded the cottage with rocks, several neighbors noted that the structure looked something like a castle. Bishop took this into consideration and soon began building his castle.
According to Roadsideamerica, "for most" of the 40 years he has worked on the castle "Bishop was engaged in a running battle with Washington bureaucrats over the rocks that he used," which came from the National Forest surrounding his property. "Bishop felt that they were his for the taking, the government wanted to charge him per truckload." That dispute has been settled. In 1996, he was challenged by the local and state government over unsanctioned road signs that pointed to the site. They settled the dispute by issuing official road signs.
The site has become a tourist attraction, and Roadsideamerica.com devoted a chapter to the castle and rated it “major fun” and describing it as, "one man's massive-obsessive labor of medieval fantasy construction". But it also issued a "parent's alert," warning potential visitors that Jim Bishop is “a tough-talking man with strong, extreme beliefs, and sometimes he expresses them bluntly and loudly. If you and your children want to avoid potentially offensive rants (involving politics and race), you may want to steer clear.”
In the winter of 2014-15 a dispute developed over control of the castle after Jim Bishop and his wife Phoebe were both diagnosed with cancer, and David Merrill, who Jim "considered a friend," was made a trustee of Bishop Castle. According to Westword.com website, Merrill turned the site "into Castle Church — for the Redemption, according to the Custer County Clerk and Recorder’s Office". Since then, the Bishops have "spent $20,000 trying to get a clear title to Bishop Castle, and to get Merrill’s name off all paperwork."
On March 28, 2018, a fire ignited on the Bishop Castle property, disintegrating the gift shop and a guest house. The fire is speculated to be electrical, and did not damage the castle itself. Despite the fire, the attraction re-opened to the public later that week, while being supported with donations and volunteer labor.
- pompia, jon (May 2, 2015). "Controversy invades Bishop Castle". the pueblo chieftain. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
- Ragan, Tom (9 June 2002). "Builder prefers being king of what he sees/Castle is maverick's 33- year labor of love". The Gazette. Retrieved 12 January 2010.(subscription required)
- CALHOUN, PATRICIA (3 September 2015). "RENOWNED ROADSIDE ATTRACTION BISHOP CASTLE UNDER SIEGE IN SOUTHERN COLORADO". Westword. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
- Porter, Mary Jean (April 23, 2006). "Adobe to Steel': Byway exhibit focuses on history's foundation: buildings". The Pueblo Chieftain. Retrieved 12 January 2010.(subscription required)
- "Ripleys Believe it or not". Reading Eagle. July 11, 1983. Retrieved 12 January 2010.
- Commagreens, Dallas (July 13, 2009). "Jim Bishops Castle". Weekly World News. Retrieved 12 January 2010.[unreliable source?]
- Owen, Rob (July 30, 2006). "The craziest castle in Colorado: Bishop's vision is a work in progress". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
- "From a life's labor, a castle rises, Jim Bishop started his 160-foot-high creation in 1969. He doesn't plan to ever stop building". Philadelphia Inquirer. July 14, 2002. Retrieved 12 January 2010.(purchase required)
- "Bishop Castle". roadsideamerica.com. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
- Searles, Denis M. (May 11, 1996). "A Man's Castle Under Siege by Bureaucrats". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 12 January 2010.(Abstract only, purchase required)
- Searles, Denis M (April 28, 1996). "Castle Craftsman Withstands Long State Siege; Colorado: Jim Bishop draws 60,000 visitors a year to his creation in the mountains while fending off assaults by highway and tax officials". LA Times. Retrieved 12 January 2010.(purchase required)
- search on Roadsideamerica.com
- Moses, Caro (28 July 2016). "Kid Carpet: Building castles on the Fringe".
- Canterbury, Carie (29 March 2018). "Investigators: Cause of Bishop's Castle fire likely electrical". Canon City Daily Record. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
- Kraemer, Sam (5 April 2018). "Volunteers help pick up debris after Bishop Castle Fire". KOAA News 5. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
- Official website
- History, photos and status as of June 2007
- Entry at the Center for Land Use Interpretation
- Entry for Bishop Castle at the National Scenic Byways website