Red Rocks Amphitheater – Morrison CO


“Red Rocks was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a Depression-era public work relief program under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” that put unemployed men, ages 17-23, to work. Over a nine year span, the CCC employed 2.5 million young men which provided them with shelter, clothing, food and a small wage.

Text from the aerial photograph of construction below, starting at the upper left and moving counter-clockwise:

  • Dirt fill and debris from the interior portion of the amphitheater was pushed to the south side, while the north side had to be cut by blasting
  • For best access, the construction staging area was located at the top of the amphitheatre. Concrete was mixed and poured from there
  • The Historic Landmark Registry cites its “strong horizontal lines” as one of the amphitheatre’s most distinctive features. The CCC developed a concrete distribution trough – an ingenious system for pouring the material in such uniform and visually pleasing lines
  • The stage wings were originally designed in an Art Deco style, adapted to the site with a unique curvature in the design and stone cladding. Higher stage wings were built in 1960.
  • As they worked, the CCC men contributed ideas to the final design of the walkway known as “The Bridge”on the amphitheatre’s south side.

The WPA was also involved in the Amphitheater’s construction. In April 1939:

“Hundreds of WPA and CCC workers are constructing roads, building bridges, leveling parking areas and building seats for the outdoor amphitheater… “Thestage is about completed, now digging out tons of debris between the two acoustic side rocks where the 9,000 seats will be installed. This is the tail-end of a job which has kept us busy for two years,” Cranmer said.” [Rocky Mountain News]

Source notes

Matt Ferner, "Romney Rally At Red Rocks Amphitheatre Raises Spectre Of FDR, New Deal," Huffington Post, October 23, 2012

Wikipedia [link broken as of July 25, 2016]

Project originally submitted by Living New Deal on November 11, 2012.
Additional contributions by Frank da Cruz and Pam Ives.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

18300 W Alameda Pkwy
Morrison, CO 80401

Coordinates: 39.665619, -105.205164

2 comments on “Red Rocks Amphitheater – Morrison CO

  1. Lola T Robison

    My great grandfather worked construction for the WPA, he married my great grandmother who was a widow with no visible means of support except her garden. She went 30 miles by mile wagon, having to stop and water her mule because she could not afford gas for her Model-T Ford left her when her husband had died. She sold fresh fruits and seasonal vegetables at a farmer’s market. She also sold her canned fresh picked preserves and jellies. Strawberry, wild gooseberry, blackberries. Blueberries, pawpaw, anything wild, even poke salad and she made dandelion jam, jellies and bagged up fresh dandelion greens for customers for salad BEFORE stores came out with prepackaged salads! Oh, if she had only patented her prepackaged salads!! Her life in her latter years could’ve been amazing! She lived to be 99. Can you imagine a CENTURY of living, the wonders she saw even dying in 1963? She saw the ending of the Civil War, WWI, WWII, the Korean Conflict where her 19 y.o. twins joined and were killed the same day, practically the same hour on two different fronts. She got a letter from both the day “The Telegram” came. Can you imagine reading these lines,” mom, I am getting increasingly aware I may have made a mistake joining. I am continually being sent to more and more hazardous zones. These soldiers aren’t soldiers. They are butchers. In some cases it is not enough they kill us, they desecrate our corpses if they can not inflict deadly wounds. I am afraid the Geneva Convention may not have a catagory for these so named tribes of Asian People, they make WWII look like a bad bar fight. We were finally able to go back with the Red Cross and a Medevac Unit, the ones we found alive, well, let’s say I think most will not survive getting to a hospital let alone surgery to repair the damage I have witnessed. If I come back in a pine box courtesy of Uncle Sam, do NOT look at me one last time. For one they do not embalm us here, and number two I might be missing parts of my body. Promise me on your Bible you WILL NOT look. I am telling you to do the same for Loman. I haven’t gotten word from him in a couple of weeks. I am already worried. Last contact was a message sent by a group who were going home some were in his unit. They said he had been moved to a place where it is worse than THIS place, if so, I can truly say he is very much closer to Hell than myself. Pray for him, he needs it worse. I pray everytime I have to move or pull the trigger to not be killed and pray for me on this one, that I kill one before another of my buddies in this Hell Hole part of the world gets killed, further diminishing our ranks. We come with 32 in our Unit, we are down to 20. It has only been 5 days on this ridge. I am suppose to be sleeping but it is hard sleeping in this fox hole when they keep firing at us. You need to be awake to tend to someone close to because they have been shot.
    Well, mother dear, I must end this letter and get it to one of the Red Cross workers.
    Please pray for us all. We need it.

    Your loving son,

  2. Gary A Cox

    The New Deal should be an ongoing program. The infrastructure is in constant need of maintenance as is the need for housing and food. The word unemployment would disappear as would the word homeless and starvation. We could choose what we spend our tax dollars for instead of bombs for
    Israel To drop on Palestinian women and children.

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