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Colorado / Nederland / North America / Traveling / United States

A Little Town Called Nederland

There is a small town about a 17 miles southwest of Boulder located up in the mountains with colorful buildings and plenty of nearby hiking trails. Just about the entire half hour drive is on winding mountain roads, which makes for a nice, scenic route. Upon arriving in Nederland, I instantly fell in love. 8,228 feet in elevation tucked into the Rocky Mountains, it gave me a warm and cozy feeling like I was in a town of gingerbread houses.

Mountain Roads | It's The Little Things

At one time a few decades ago, Nederland was a booming mining town, but the bountiful minerals did not last forever. In the 1960s, the hippies started making their move into Nederland, increasing the population and bringing a new lifestyle to the quiet town. It’s amazing to see the impact that the mines had on Nederland’s population. At it’s peak in 1915, the town had 3,000 residents. Come 1950, the population had dropped all the way down to 266. For the last decade or so, however, Nederland has remained at around a steady 1,400 population.

The town now has a variety of small shops, cafes, restaurants, and even two breweries. While we were there, we stopped to grab a beer and some food at the Wild Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery. We chose to wait so we could get a table outside and enjoy the beautiful view and weather. Another block over we stopped at a small tent where a woman was selling fresh produce. There seemed to be a little bit of everything in this town!

Wild Mountain | It's The Little Things

Nederland, CO | It's The Little Things

Nederland’s more recent claim to fame is their annual “Frozen Dead Guy Days” celebration that is held every year during the first weekend in March. What’s the deal with this strange sounding event? It all started when Bredo Morstel (also known as Grandpa Bredo) died from a heart condition in 1989. Grandpa Bredo was born and raised in Norway. Instead of having a burial when the corpse was found by his grandson, it was preserved using dry ice and shipped off to California where Grandpa Bredo lounged in liquid nitrogen for almost four years.

Nederland, Colorado | It's The Little Things

In 1993, Grandpa Bredo made the big move to Nederland, Colorado to return to dry ice and live with his daughter and grandson out in the shed behind their house. After Grandpa Bredo’s grandson’s visa expired, his daughter took over the house but was evicted shortly after for living in a house with no electricity or plumbing. The town quickly found out about ol’ Grandpa Bredo hanging out in the shed, and soon enough there was a law passed in Nederland making it illegal to store any dead body (or body part) in your home. Luckily for Grandpa Bredo, he earned celeb status and the town allowed him to stay. He has his own caretaker who transports the dry ice to preserve the body, and in 2002 the annual festival went into effect, soon making Grandpa Bredo a worldwide sensation.

25 years later and Grandpa Bredo is still going strong! I hope to make it over to the 2015 festival to enjoy a weekend full of live music, frozen turkey bowling, coffin racing, brain freeze contests, and plenty more odd and unique activities!

27 Comments

  • shere @shereypaul
    October 19, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    funny that a town is called like a country 🙂

    Shere y Paul

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      October 21, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      It actually sort of came from the country name! The mining company Nederland from Holland bought the Caribou mine is 1873, and the Mill became known to the miners as “the Netherlands,” so when the town was incorporated in 1874 they chose Nederland as the new name. Crazy how things like that work out!

      Reply
  • Tamara Gruber
    October 20, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    Cute looking town but more than a little creepy that they have a festival after a family that kept a frozen body hanging around! It doesn’t seem like something to celebrate but hey, any excuse goes, right?

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      October 20, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      There is definitely a creepy factor, but I guess it worked for them, and people enjoy the celebration! Thanks for stopping by Tamara!

      Reply
  • alexa meisler
    October 20, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Will be in Boulder in December — looking forward to checking this out as a day trip.

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      October 20, 2014 at 6:58 pm

      That’s so exciting! Are you visiting for anything specific? Nederland is the perfect day trip, hope you enjoy and can’t wait to read up about your experience!

      Reply
  • anna parker
    October 20, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Wow – I’m not sure I’d want Grandpa Bredo living in the shed, but I’m pretty sure that draws the crowds in! Sounds like a quaint place

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      October 20, 2014 at 7:03 pm

      Haha yea it is quite creepy. But the festival sure is a big hit!

      Reply
  • Fairlie
    October 21, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    That is a very bizarre story about the dead guy in dry ice! It looks like a pretty town though.

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      October 21, 2014 at 9:41 pm

      It is crazy, but certainly makes for a memorable story! Can’t wait to check out the event, but regardless, I love the town at any time of year!

      Reply
  • Melissa
    October 22, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Sounds like a cute town! I LOVE cute lil’ mountain towns — I’ll have to put this one on my list 🙂

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      October 22, 2014 at 7:39 pm

      They are great destinations! Let me know how you like it if you get the chance to visit!

      Reply
  • amanda
    October 22, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    I met my husband in Ned 15 years ago, when I was 20 . I was hitchhiking down to Mexico, from MN, stopped in Ned for the night to shower at the house of a friends great aunt. Walking down the street, another long lost friend drove past and jumped out of a car. She took me to a drum circle a little further up the road by Ruby Gulch where I spent the next couple of months camping with about 30 people in the national forest there and met the man I’m spending my life with. Everything about my present started in Nederland. I worked for about 2 weeks at the little supermarket you have pictured to earn money to go see my family or something. So many memories. What a great town.

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      October 22, 2014 at 7:47 pm

      Wow, what an amazing story! Hearing how meaningful Nederland is to you makes it an even more special place to visit. It is so wild and wonderful the way that something so small and seemingly insignificant can sometimes turn into a huge life changing experience. So glad you shared this!

      Reply
  • Alexandra C.
    October 24, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Wow! What a beautiful town and a strange tradition! That has to be the most unique event I’ve heard of. And impressive that the method is still working and legal…. 🙂 Seems like you enjoyed your trip though! 🙂 -Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      October 25, 2014 at 10:30 am

      It sure is pretty strange, but I guess it gives the town a reason for a celebration! Thanks for stopping by Alexandra!

      Reply
  • Ashley Hufford
    October 24, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    I am madly in love with Colorado and this town is so beautiful!!! Glad you had such an awesome trip!

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      October 25, 2014 at 10:31 am

      I fell for Colorado instantly 🙂 These kinds of small mountain towns only make it that much better! Thanks for stopping by Ashley!

      Reply
  • Rhonda Albom
    October 26, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    Cute town with an interesting history. When I read the name I expected it to be in Europe.

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      October 26, 2014 at 10:00 pm

      The name comes from the Netherlands, so that makes sense! Thanks for stopping by Rhonda!

      Reply
  • Ashley @ Asouthern Gypsy
    October 28, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Interesting but I love stories like this! I’d be interested to see what the festival is like haha

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      October 28, 2014 at 9:33 pm

      Me too! I am planning to attend in 2015 so I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

      Reply
  • Adelina // Pack Me To
    October 30, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Wow, what an interesting “festival.” I cannot even imagine what thats like. Seems like the town has taken it in stride though and having some fun with it.

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      October 30, 2014 at 8:45 pm

      Yeah It should be interesting, I’m going to try and check it out in 2015!

      Reply
  • Jessica @ The Dining Traveler
    November 3, 2014 at 11:21 am

    My nephew is graduating from the Air Force Academy next year and we want to make a trip to the Rockies in combination with this trip. This looks like a lovely town with a lovelier name (Netherland, my other half is Dutch). Great photos!

    Reply
    • Marissa Sutera
      November 3, 2014 at 10:17 pm

      Thanks Jessica! I’m excited you will be heading out to the the Rockies. Nederland is a lovely town, great place to stop on your journey!

      Reply
  • […] No, this was not Halloween. This is actually in March at a festival called Frozen Dead Guy Days in the small mountain town of Nederland, Colorado. […]

    Reply

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