Boulder Mythbusters

Boulder Mythbusters
Boulder, Colo., is alternately known as a college town, a mountain town and a hippie town. Well, which is it? Actually, it's all of the above, and that's what gives the city its unique panache. Eccentric, quirky, creative, intelligent – Boulder is all of these. The town's rich history means that a lot of urban myths are circulating. Separate truth from fiction with these Boulder mythbusters.

1. The cafeteria at the University of Colorado, Boulder is named after a cannibal.

TRUE. Students in 1968 named their cafeteria the Alferd G. Packer Grill. Packer was an infamous prospector who ate his companions after being snowbound in the Rockies in 1874. The nearby town of Nederland also hosts "Frozen Dead Guy Days" each year, but that's another story.

Alferd G. Packer Grill
University Memorial Center, University of Colorado, Boulder
Euclid Ave, Boulder, CO 80302

2. The house that "Mork & Mindy" lived in is in Boulder.

FALSE. Sort of. The 1970s science fiction sitcom that set Robin Williams on his path to fame, Mork & Mindy, was set in Boulder. The interiors were all studio sets, but the exterior of the house is the real deal, and it's still standing, at 1619 Pine Street. You can't visit the house, but you can snap a photo of the outside.

3. The University of Colorado, Boulder is the alma mater of 17 astronauts.

TRUE. This is no urban legend – Boulder, with all its quirkiness, is also known for having an enormously well-educated population. Among the 17 are Jack Swigert (Apollo 13), Scott Carpenter (Project Mercury) and Ellison Onizuka (Challenger). The university has graduated its fair share of artists, writers and entrepreneurs, too.

4. Boulder is a rising destination for foodies.

TRUE. You wouldn't think a college town with such a relaxed reputation would be known for its cuisine, but it's a rising star in foodie circles. bon appétit magazine recently dubbed it "America's Foodiest Small Town" for its topnotch restaurants and farmers' markets, which are whole-heartedly supported by a community of chowhounds. Sure, you can get burgers and pizza (this is a college town, after all) but you can get plenty more – including occasional guest chef dinners at Jax Fish House from winner of reality show Top Chef season five, Hosea Rosenberg. If anyone claims they couldn't find a good meal downtown, Boulder mythbusters will beg to differ.

Jax Fish House
928 Pearl St
Boulder, CO 80302
Open nightly from 4PM

5. Boulder is home to the only continuously operated Chautauqua site west of the Mississippi.

TRUE. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, Chautauquas were a hugely popular form of presentational entertainment across the U.S., especially in rural areas where access to cultural and educational pursuits was limited. Boulder's Chautauqua Park dates back to 1898, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It continues to maintain an active schedule of lectures, concerts, readings, film screenings and theater. This is one Boulder urban legend that's worth checking out, especially if you're into history and culture.

Colorado Chautauqua National Historical Landmark
900 Baseline Rd
Boulder, CO 80302
Ticket prices and event times vary.

6. Cows in Boulder have been known to tip people.

TRUE. In January 2009, a woman was knocked off her bicycle by a cow, which then proceeded to trample her legs. Only in Boulder would an urban myth like this prove to be true.

7. In spite of the apparent people-tipping proclivity of Boulder cows, the city is among the best for bicycling in the U.S.

TRUE. Outdoor magazines often rank Boulder among the top U.S. cities for cycling. Debunking the urban myth that riding on city streets is dangerous, Boulder has bike lanes on most of its streets, and the city is ringed by green space with more than 100 miles of trails. For a useful list of trails and cycling information, check Get Boulder.

8. Macky Auditorium on the University of Colorado, Boulder campus is haunted.

FALSE. One scary Boulder urban legend has it that the ghost of a woman slain in 1966 haunts room 304 of Macky Auditorium. Despite staff reporting nothing unusual, the rumors persisted, so in 2008 the Boulder County Paranormal Research Society investigated. Even with all of their scientific equipment, used to measure everything from air temperature to changes in electromagnetic fields, the society found no evidence whatsoever to substantiate the claims.

Macky Auditorium
University Ave & 17th St
Boulder, CO 80309
(303) 492-8423
Event times and ticket prices vary

9. When Celestial Seasonings is making its trademark Sleepytime tea, area residents report feeling drowsy.

FALSE. Celestial Seasonings was founded in 1970, and continues to craft herbal teas at its headquarters in Boulder. Indeed, it's one of the largest herbal tea manufacturers in the country. However, relaxing though it is, the aromas of Sleepytime tea have not been connected to any instances of mass somnolence. Check out the hot nightlife downtown and you'll see this is one of the easiest Boulder mythbusters to prove.

Celestial Seasonings
4600 Sleepytime Drive
Boulder, CO 80301
Tours Mon-Sat 10AM-4PM, Sun 11AM-3PM.

10. Clovis-age tools were discovered in a Boulder backyard when the homeowner was creating a fishpond.

TRUE. In 2008, a stash of stone tools was unearthed when landscapers dug up resident Patrick Mahaffy's yard. Turns out, the 83 implements were about 13,000 years old, and after testing it was found that some of them had been used to butcher ice-age horses, camels, sheep and bears.
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