Skip to Main Content

Stainless steel tank containing Grandpa Bredo is the centerpiece of the International Cryonics Museum.
Stainless steel tank containing Grandpa Bredo is the centerpiece of the International Cryonics Museum.

International Cryonics Museum

Field review by the editors.

Estes Park, Colorado

Bredo Morstol was Norwegian. When he died on November 6, 1989, his grandson Trygve ("Trig") Bauge packed dry ice around his body and brought Bredo to America, hoping that future-science might eventually revive him. Trygve lived in Nederland, Colorado, and for 30 years "Grandpa Bredo" was there, too -- frozen, in a backyard Tuff shed, regularly replenished with bags of dry ice. Grandpa became a local celebrity, never seen yet famous, the figurehead of the town's Frozen Dead Guy Days festival every March.

Tour group is given a lesson in human vitrification.
Tour group is given a lesson in human vitrification.

By 2023, however, the cult event had grown too big for Nederland, and the festival was moved to the tourist town of Estes Park, about an hour's drive north. Now Frozen Dead Guy Days was being celebrated in a town that had no Frozen Dead Guy. People wondered: what would happen to Bredo?

John Cullen, owner of the 115-year-old Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, offered to turn the Hotel's disused icehouse into a new home for Grandpa. James Arrowood, president of the cryonics foundation Alcor, agreed to move Bredo and to upgrade his sub-zero surroundings from dry ice to liquid nitrogen.

Grandpa now hangs, head-down, inside a hardened stainless steel super-thermos called a dewar, chilled to -320 degrees Fahrenheit. And you can visit him.

One year before the big move: topping off the dry ice on Grandpa Bredo in his Nederland shed in 2022.
One year before the big move: topping off the dry ice on Grandpa Bredo in his Nederland shed in 2022.

James told us that he was initially leery of the project. Alcor, he said, was too well known as the place that freezes the dead -- Alcor calls it "pausing the dying process" -- but "that's not what we do day-to-day," James said. Partnering with the world's most famous Frozen Dead Guy might thereby send the wrong message. Plus, it would require a lot of never-attempted engineering to transport and preserve Grandpa in such a remote location (All of Alcor's other frozen "patients" are at its headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona). "But we are a scientific research organization," James said, "and there was a lot of serious scientific data that could be gathered from this." For example, he wondered, "What does it look like when somebody's been on dry ice for 30 years?"

In addition, said James, "Trig was gonna run out of time and money. Grandpa Bredo would be lost at some point in all likelihood. There would be no scientific value derived from all those years of effort."

Tourist poses for a selfie in a cutaway cryostasis tank.
Tourist poses for a selfie in a cutaway cryostasis tank.

So on August 26, 2023, Alcor sent a team of medical personal and former Navy SEALs to pack up Grandpa and race him to his new home. "They're very good and very fast," said James of his team. The move was timed to the second, and included a brief examination of Bredo before he was lowered into his new deep freeze. "He was," said James, "in fantastic condition."

The Stanley Hotel now gives hourly tours of the former icehouse, renamed the International Cryonics Museum. Grandpa Bredo is its centerpiece.

Grandpa's tank, protected behind bullet-resistant glass, is flanked by a Norwegian flag and a large plaque featuring his portrait and an assurance that "family members in Norway are thrilled" by his new accommodations. Hung from the wooden walls are informational signs; one explains that Grandpa is suspended upside-down to protect his brain in case the liquid nitrogen in his tank falls too low (exposed human feet, after all, could be replaced). Another sign features upbeat testimonials from Alcor members (i.e. future cryo-patients). "We want to generate interest," said James, "but I wouldn't call it a heavy sell."

At one end of the former icehouse is a prone dummy in a glass box modeling the operation of early cryonics "vitrification" machinery. Hung to the left of Grandpa is the frost-scarred metal case in which he lay for 30 years (you can see the words "Grandfather Bauge" scratched into it), and to the right is an example of the high-tech "sleeping bag" that currently cocoons Grandpa within his metal tank. "He is inside it; it's not fake," said James of the tank, adding that its temperature and pressure is continually monitored by Alcor technicians. Another dewar is displayed next to Grandpa, sliced open so that visitors can pose inside it for unique selfies: U B the cryonaut.

Racing the clock, the disaster assistance response team from Alcor moves Grandpa in August 2023.
Racing the clock, the disaster assistance response team from Alcor moves Grandpa in August 2023.

A sizable part of the International Cryonics Museum is devoted to the potential benefits of Alcor's research into cryopreservation. Hearts, kidneys, and other body parts could be cold-stored, eliminating the waiting times for organ transplants. Wildlife species on the brink of extinction could be frozen, then later "reborn" through thawed DNA. Slowing a body's metabolism through cold could lengthen the time available to get someone to a hospital, or could make possible decades-long trips to the stars. "It's an opportunity to educate the public about what it is we do, and why it's maybe not so crazy," said James.

Still, the most memorable part of a visit to this museum is the idea that Grandpa is only a few inches away (although James warned that anyone sticking their hand into Bredo's tank would have it instantly frozen into glass). "Everybody wants a clear tank," James said, for a view of Grandpa, but that's not possible since no transparent material exists which could withstand such extreme cold and pressure.

Not yet, anyway.

In the future, we asked, might such a thing be an exhibit at the International Cryonics Museum? "I'm not sure if ethically we'd want to do that," said James, "although in the spirit of scientific education some of our members would probably volunteer."

Also see: Alcor Cryonics Tour

International Cryonics Museum

The Stanley Hotel

Address:
333 E. Wonderview Ave., Estes Park, CO
Directions:
The Stanley Hotel. In town. On the right side of US-34 just north of its intersection with US-36. Ask at the front desk for the Cryonics Museum tour.
Hours:
Tours daily on the hour 10-8. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Phone:
970-577-4110
Admission:
Tour $20.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

The Shining Hotel - TV MiniseriesThe Shining Hotel - TV Miniseries, Estes Park, CO - < 1 mi.
Noah's Ark-Shaped BuildingNoah's Ark-Shaped Building, Estes Park, CO - 1 mi.
Fallen Park Ranger MemorialFallen Park Ranger Memorial, Estes Park, CO - 2 mi.
In the region:
Peter Toth Indian Carving, Loveland, CO - 17 mi.

More Quirky Attractions in Colorado

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in Colorado.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use RoadsideAmerica.com's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

My Sights

My Sights on Roadside America

Map and Plan Your Own Roadside Adventure ...Try My Sights

Mobile Apps

Roadside America app: iPhone, iPad Roadside America app for iPhone, iPad. On-route maps, 1,000s of photos, special research targets! ...More

Roadside Presidents app: iPhone, iPad Roadside Presidents app for iPhone, iPad. POTUS landmarks, oddities. ...More

Colorado Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

Pencil Sharpener Museum, Logan, Ohio (Feb 26-Mar 3, 2024)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings

Favorite Quirky City Sights