2881 North Avenue,
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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. 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 theaters.
The Rocket Drive-In closed in 1985 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. 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.
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