Published: March 11, 2022 By

Bongo Love's wood carvings outside of the Rocky Flats Bar & Grill.I used to think Boulder ended at the streetcar graveyard. 

Streetcars arrived in Boulder in 1899, followed by an interurban line from Boulder to Denver. When the streetcars and trains were abandoned, a field between Boulder and Eldorado Springs became their final resting place.

One day, I continued south, past the old Matterhorn and Hornbrook restaurants. 

I thought that was the end of Boulder, but then I saw the Rocky Flats Lounge glowing in the darkness — now, I'd surely reached the end of Boulder. 

I once read “The Inn Outside the World,” a science fiction story by Edmond Hamilton. It was about an inn in another dimension where humanity’s greatest minds — Socrates, Voltaire, Einstein — mingled and socialized. When I saw the Rocky Flats Lounge, my first thought was, “Good Lord. I’ve found it.”  

A lone tavern on a wind-swept plain across the street from a nuclear weapons plant. End of Boulder? Hell. It seemed like the bar at the end of the world. 

It was, as one of the owners later described it, a neighborhood tavern without a neighborhood. But it had a clientele. Bomb plant workers, bikers, Green Bay Packers fans — it served ’em all. 

The Lounge burned in 2015. But, phoenix-like, it reopened in July 2019 as the Rocky Flats Bar & Grill. It still featured the Friday-night fish fries.  

And then the Great Pestilence of 2020 struck. 

So a few days before Christmas 2021, I drove south on Hwy. 93 to see if it was still there. 

It was.  

But it was closed.  

The sign on the door said “New owner, reopening soon.” 

In the parking lot was a surprise: a lot full of marvelous wood carvings for sale. Eagles. Bears. Horses. Seahorses. Flamingos. Alligators. Owls. Dragonflies.  

The artist, named Bongo Love, was on site. 

A member of Zimbabwe’s Shona tribe, he came to Boulder in 2000.

“I use the area as a refuge. It’s not a business; it’s a refuge,” he said. “I’m free here. It’s the most creative space you can have.”  

An excellent sentiment from the end of Boulder — one that, on a good day, describes Boulder from beginning to end.

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Photo by Paul Danish