“You learn and you grow, we’ve narrowed it down a bit,” Stegman said. “Now we’re going back to a little more traditional advertising.”
The airport straddles two traditions of American lies, according to Dylan Thuras, co-founder of Atlas Obscura, a travel media company focused on unusual destinations. Over the past decade, the airport has moved closer to a space occupied by online conspiracy theories that can focus on physical locations and urban planning concepts, such as the 15-minute city, without translating into actual tourism.
Then there’s the kind of kitschy folklore that has inspired multiple groups in Washington state to offer Bigfoot hunting expeditions; one has a $245 day tour with lessons on “techniques proven to attract Sasquatch.”
“It is difficult to compete, if it is a tourist office, in its wineries or its beaches because all the places have wineries and many places have beaches,” said Thuras. “People are drawn to mythical stories.”
In Denver, a city with a park built on thousands of corpses and near radium contaminated streetsa psychedelic art installation Posing as a multi-dimensional gateway and restaurant set in a mortuary that reportedly once contained the remains of Buffalo Bill Cody, it can seem like everyone they meet has an opinion about the airport.
Restaurant servers say the runways are swastika-shaped (something airport representatives vehemently deny, explaining that the design allows for multiple simultaneous takeoffs and landings). Airline employees report glimpses of ghosts and claim that Native American music is played at night to appease the spirits of the dead buried below (Ms Stegman said there are no graves and the music is part of a art installation that, if not for a finicky sound system, would be on all the time). Uber drivers believe that the land left over from the airport construction was used to create artificial mountains to hide food for the apocalypse (Ms. Stegman just laughed and said she hadn’t heard that).
When the Denver airport opened in 1995, it was 16 months behind schedule and $2 billion over budget. The difficulties drew legal complaints and government investigations, but also rumours, spread online and locally, that the extra time and cost had gone into sinister design modifications, including more than a hundred miles of tunnels leading to underground meeting facilities. , survival bunkers, deep underground tunnels. military bases and even the North American Aerospace Defense Command near Colorado Springs.