Mystery buyer for Buckskin Joe revealed to be billionaire Koch brother

August 29, 2011

Nearly a year after the Buckskin Joe Frontier Town was sold to an anonymous buyer, the mystery man was revealed to be Florida billionaire William Koch. As first reported by Denver’s Westword, Koch is moving the historic ghost town to his ranch near Gunnison.

A spokesman for Koch confirmed the purchase and said that several of the buildings have been dismantled, but said he could provide no more information.

Former Buckskin Joe owner Greg Tabuteau sold the town last year for $3.1 million. At the time, he would only say that it was sold to a private buyer who planned to relocate the buildings. The party of record was a company set up specifically for the purchase, Fremont County Acquisitions LLC.

“The buyer is adamant about wanting to remain anonymous,” Tabuteau told the Pueblo Cheiftain last year. “He will concentrate on moving Buckskin Joe right away and then later, the scenic railway.”

Buckskin Joe was originally a mining boom town located near Alma in the 1860’s, but the name and the one surviving building were relocated in 1957 to Cañon City to serve as a tourist attraction and movie set, and about 30 authentic Old West buildings were added to create the town. The Royal Gorge Buckskin Joe was the setting for 1965’s “Cat Ballou” and John Wayne’s “The Cowboys” (1972), along with many other Hollywood Westerns.

Koch is apparently a collector of Western lore, having paid $2.3 million for an 1879 tintype of Billy the Kid in June.

Koch’s purchase price for Buckskin Joe also included 805 acres near the Royal Gorge and the Royal Gorge Scenic Railway. Although he had planned to retire after selling the attraction he owned for 25 years, this spring Tabuteau leased the railway back and has operated it through the summer (it’s open through September).

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