Big Something intern Ruby Kimberly put together this look back at Drop City—frequently cited as the first artist/hippy commune—in Trinidad, Colorado. Kimberly writes:

In passing through the region surrounding Trinidad, CO today, one encounters a vast expanse of arid and sparsely populated land where, for a brief moment in the 1960s and 70s, became a strangely futuristic rural stopping point for young idealists and travelers traversing the country who sought new and radical experiences to transform their lives and society at large. Indeed, from 1965 through the early seventies, a small plot of land in this southeastern corner of the state played host to one of the country’s first rural artists communes– a bastion of radical innovation and youthful idealism called Drop City.

Influenced by Buckminster Fuller, Allan Kaprow and the experimental Black Mountain College among others, Drop City was founded in 1965 by Gene Bernofsky, JoAnn Bernofsky, Richard Kallweit and Clark Richert and John Curl, the 7-acre tract of land located four miles north of Trinidad became a living work of “Drop Art”, a concept that called for the informed integration of art into everyday life developed by the founding members while at the University of Kansas. It quickly gained notoriety for its unique and visually striking structures based on Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes, which were constructed with panels made of automobile roofs and other recycled materials that residents built for the purposes of housing and community space. As a testing ground for efforts in renewable energies and alternative lifestyles (most of which failed), Drop City became the model for many other hippy communes.

I spoke with John Curl, Drop City resident and author of “Memories of Drop City”. Here (in the slide show above) Curl, who is a poet and notable activist in the modern cooperative movement, reflects on the joys and trials of trying to transform mass society through creativity and communal dedication.

Below is a trailer for a documentary-in-progress filmmakers by Joan Grossman and Tom McCourt. You can find out more about the film HERE.

We greatly appreciate your feedback in the comments below or by email: Thanks!


4 Responses to Looking Back at Drop City

  1. John says:

    Wow is all I can say. Looking at the highs and lows of a very successful ’60s commune is really a trip. The angst to do this is emerging again in these times and the execution and complexity/difficulties that exist in an alternative society are truly fascinating.

    Good stuff you guys. I hadn’t previously ever heard of or noticed “Drop City.”

  2. Mary H says:

    Another wonderful glimpse of live in CO that I never knew existed. I’ve lived here 15 years, and so many cool things I never knew.



  3. I spoke with John Curl, Drop City resident and author of “Memories of Drop City”. Is there a audio of your discussion? I am trying to learn about Drop City, and the thought of listening to the interview is very interesting.


  4. Noel Black says:

    Click play on the slide show at the top of the post, Sarah. An interview with John Curl plays under the images.


October 4, 2015 | NPR · Sunday is the first day of a three-week meeting of Catholic bishops to tackle questions of marriage, divorce and homosexuality — issues that go to the heart of what it means to be a Catholic.

October 4, 2015 | NPR · Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, announced he will run for speaker of the House, challenging GOP majority leader Kevin McCarthy to become the successor to outgoing Speaker John Boehner.

October 4, 2015 | NPR · A hospital was hit while U.S. forces were conducting an airstrike in the Afghan city; the aid group says 22 people were killed. NATO has said that it will conduct an investigation into the attack.

Arts & Life

October 4, 2015 | NPR · Before his success in the NBA, Caron Butler overcame a rocky youth in the inner city. Drugs and violence nearly derailed him — but, as he writes in a new memoir, he managed a dramatic turnaround.

October 4, 2015 | NPR · Theater critic Michael Riedel dishes some juicy backstage anecdotes in his new book about Broadway’s Shubert Organization, but fails to bring its deal-makers and their troubles to convincing life.

October 4, 2015 | NPR · Fear The Walking Dead is telling a story not often explored on prime-time television: generational rifts over the violence that immigrant parents have experienced.


Courtesy of the artist
October 4, 2015 | NPR · A one-time pop sensation, the singer and composer made a deft pivot to theater with his Tony-winning music for Spring Awakening. These days, he’s exploring the electronic music of his youth.

October 3, 2015 | NPR · Tom Waits lays down his belief in mole democracy and New York City surrealism in a recently unearthed, freshly animated interview on PBS.

Important Records
October 3, 2015 | NPR · Jacobs’ achievements are almost too diverse to list: a humorist, record producer, sound designer and radio host, he achieved little fame but was a catalyst for giant steps in the worlds he touched.

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac