Rocket Drive-In

2881 North Avenue,
Grand Junction, CO 81501

Unfavorite 1 person favorited this theater

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Westland Theaters Inc.

Nearby Theaters

Rocket Sign (1987)

The Rocket Drive-In was Grand Junction’s third drive-in offering. It was built by the Scales family in 1955 on the sight of a former orchard and field. The property was located on the south side of North Avenue (US 6 & 24), just east of the Chief Drive-In. It was located about 300' south of the road, behind a strip of other properties including the Hurt Drive-In restaurant, a radiator shop and the Fruitvale Sanitation office. It was opened on April 16, 1955 with Dorothy Malone in “Five Guns West” & John Ireland in “The Fast and the Furious” The Scales sold the business (not the land) to Westland Theatres in the 1960’s.

The Rocket Drive-In had the distinction of being built after the introduction of CinemaScope in 1954 so it was built with a horizontally curved screen. The entrance went south from North Avenue along a the west side of the property. The screen was at the north side of the property and faced south. The concession stand and booth were in a single story building in the middle of the field. The east side of the property was bounded by a street which became Melody Lane. The return and exit road were along the east side, across the north (behind the screen) back to the in/out road by the ticket booth.

The projection was initially via Motiograph (if I remember it right) projectors. In 1979 these were replaced with a platter system and a Simplex XL (the number two machine from the Chief Drive-In) was installed. The speakers were upgraded to Reed cast speakers to be common with other Westland theatres.

The Rocket Drive-In closed on September 4, 1986 when Westland (Commonwealth) opted to not renew the real estate lease. The advent of better cable TV, VCR and a local economic downturn all factored into the decision to not renew the lease. It re-opened for two more seasons by the Scales family, closing at the end of the 1988 season. The Rocket Drive-In as well as the surrounding properties were sold to WalMart. They opened their store on the site in 1989. Westland/Commonwealth salvaged the equipment and sent it to their warehouse in Colorado Springs.

The Scales family operated another Rocket Drive-In in Durango, Colorado. It was in operation as late as the 1990’s.

Contributed by Nick Genova

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

Nick on September 16, 2014 at 3:20 am

Located the opening date, April 16, 1955. First show was Five Guns West followed by The Fast & the Furious.

rivest266 on April 1, 2019 at 10:42 pm

This opened on April 16th, 1955 and closed in 1987.

davidcoppock on April 2, 2019 at 10:32 am

Opened with “Five guns west” and “The fast and the furious”.

MichaelKilgore on November 22, 2019 at 4:15 pm

Motion Picture Herald, April 16, 1955: “Leonard Scales has opened his new 350-car (with room for expansion) Rocket drive-in, Grand Junction, Colo., with Clarence Batter doing the buying and booking.”

MichaelKilgore on June 27, 2020 at 7:22 pm

The Rocket’s final ad in the local Daily Sentinel said it was showing “Summer School” and “Back to the Beach” on “FRI-SAT-SUN”. That ad ran through Labor Day, Sept. 5, 1987, all the way through Thursday, Sept. 10. It was gone on Friday, Sept. 11, so I’m guessing that the Rocket’s final night was Sept. 4.

MichaelKilgore on August 23, 2020 at 5:49 pm

One minor clarification to Nick Genova’s excellent summary: According to a story in the March 20, 1986 Daily Sentinel, Westland/Commonwealth’s 10-year lease had expired. (Westland had leased the Rocket before the 1976 season.) Leonard Scales allowed his daughter and son-in-law, Melanie and Alan Gates, to manage the Rocket for what became its final two seasons.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater.