Paonia Drive-In

179 Colorado Highway 133,
Paonia, CO 81428

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Paonia Drive-In

The Panonia Drive-In was opened on June 7, 1957 with Howard Duff in “Sierra Stranger” & Donald O'Connor in “Walking My Baby Back Home”. It was still opened in the mid-1990’s.

Contributed by Anthony L. Hernandez

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

Chris1982 on September 23, 2014 at 9:23 am

The Paonia Drive-In was listed as open in 1958 with a 300 car capacity. It was still listed as open in the early-1980’s.

Kenmore on December 12, 2014 at 10:11 am

Found it. Located on the west side of the river at approximately 179 Colorado HWY 133. There is no trace of the drive-left today.

MichaelKilgore on November 1, 2016 at 11:34 am

The Paonia was not listed in the 1955 Theatre Catalog, so that gives us a narrow range for when it probably opened, thanks Chris1982.

Thanks for the link, Kenmore. Google Earth from 2016 still shows the sign there. From the layout, my guess is that the screen bordered the highway, patrons looped along the tree-lined drive to the south maybe past those ponds, then back to the main parking area?

Kenmore on November 1, 2016 at 3:02 pm

According to a 1994 aerial and previous topo maps, the screen was indeed next to the highway. However, the drive-in itself was rather rectangular running west to east and not dipping down towards the south. It appears that the car capacity was fairly small.

TomMc11 on June 28, 2018 at 11:53 am

A couple of ramps in the back are still visible, and it looks like the projection booth building is there, just repurposed and expanded.

MichaelKilgore on September 19, 2019 at 11:37 am

I wonder where Chris1982 found his 1958 info, because the Paonia’s first appearance in the Motion Picture Almanac series was the 1960 edition. The 1960-66 MPAs listed the Paonia with a capacity of 300, owner Tom Poulos. The next update was in the 1977 MPA reboot, when the Paonia’s owner was D. Linza, and that’s how it stayed through the final MPA drive-in list in 1988.

MichaelKilgore on September 19, 2019 at 11:48 am

As suggested by its inclusion in the 1960 Motion Picture Almanac, the Paonia was open by 1959. A note under the Paonia news in Grand Junction CO’s Daily Sentinel of May 27, 1959 said that the Paonia high school’s freshman class “enjoyed a hobo party at the Paonia Drive-In Patio Thursday evening.”

50sSNIPES on September 19, 2019 at 1:55 pm

The Drive-In When I Looked At Google Earth, It Looks Like Its Still Open In 1994 But Closed Later On. I Can See A Few Cars At The Time.

MichaelKilgore on September 22, 2019 at 11:42 pm

The Paonia held its grand opening on June 7, 1957, based on a front-page article the previous day in The Paonian. Owner Tom Poulos said that some of the equipment hadn’t yet arrived, but the incomplete theater would open on schedule.

The drive-in had 260 speakers and a 78x34-foot screen. “Don Poulos, manager of the Paonia and Hotchkiss theatres, will also manage the drive-in.”

The opening program was “Sierra Stranger,” “Walking My Baby Back Home,” a cartoon and a Three Stooges short.

dansdriveintheater on September 23, 2019 at 12:00 am

back ramps, marquee, and projectors both still stand.

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