Building the Amphitheatre

Red Rocks Amphitheatre is one of the grandest achievements of the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC existed for nine years and three months and has remained one of the most popular of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. More than 3 million men went through the Corps between 1933 and 1942.

Company 1848, Camp SP-13-C, Mount Morrison, Colorado consisted of approximately 155-200 members. Each member was paid $30 per month. $25 of that amount was sent directly to their families. CCC veteran Walt Purvis of Aurora, Colorado recalled, “A dollar a day was good money then, because there were no jobs to be had, period. The money they sent home made the difference between my brothers and sisters getting shoes or not. By teaching us trades and skills and how to get along with other people, the CCC gave us a start in life” he added.

The amphitheatre project required them to remove 25,000 cubic yards of rock and dirt and used 90,000 square feet of flagstone, ten carloads of cement, 800 tons of quarried stone, and 30,000 pounds of reinforced steel.

The building of this theatre is not a steam-shovel job. The work is being done by man-power. After the excavation is finished most of the work will require skilled labor. Here the boys of the company will be repaid for the long hours spent with pick and shovel. The fellows will be given an opportunity to learn a trade from actually doing the work. Just a few of the jobs where skilled labor is required are: stone masonry, electrical engineering, cement and carpentry work, surveying, blasting and landscaping. The members of this company are not just working for a dollar a day for the Government—they are building an amphitheatre that will stand for centuries, and in generations to come this work will remain a symbol of advancement of the western culture of today… This amphitheatre will be an enduring monument to the Civilian Conservation Corps in Colorado for years to come.
—From History of the Civilian Conservation Corps in Colorado, Summer 1936

5 thoughts on “Building the Amphitheatre

  1. Pingback: Moving Mountains, The Construction of Red Rocks Amphitheatre | The Story of Colorado's Red Rocks

  2. Hello my name is Gordon L. Genty and I am a grandson of Frank Robbie Wester, one of the stonecutter that imargate from Scotland in 1898. Frank entered the states via Ellis Island and made his way to Colorado and Denver. He work on many construction sites in Denver like the US Mint, the State Capitiol and a number of other projects in and around Denver needing a stonecutter. He was greatly interestmental with the construction of the Red Rocks amphitheater. Mainly the stage area and goodly number of the rows and rows of seating and steps and other places needing a stonecutter.
    I have often wondered if there is a list or roster of the work force that had a hand in the construction of such an undertaking. My parents, a brother and two sister were born in Colorado. I am the youngest at 79 yrs. and born in Texas.

    • The idea of the amphitheatre dates at least to John Brisben Walker’s ownership of the property (1906-1927). He held the first concert there in 1911 if I remember right. Early concerts were held on a simple stage, with people sitting on the existing rough slope that had trails up through it. The amphitheatre was built between 1936 and 1941 to provide a more functional concert setting.

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