The Durango Herald ran a great story yesterday that outlined a thorough history of drive-in theaters in Durango CO. It starts with the Basin Drive-in on Main Avenue in 1950, which was apparently its first year. “If the drive-in was open before that, which appears unlikely, it wasn’t advertised in the Herald,” wrote columnist John Peel.
In 1956, the Basin was renamed the Knox. That’s the way it’s listed in my 1955-56 Theatre Catalog’s drive-in list, and that it was run by (and probably owned by) one T.R. Knox.
The Rocket opened in 1957 in the southeast part of town. A year later, the Knox became the Bell Drive-in; I wonder if some guy named Bell bought it. In 1963, ads for the Bell disappeared from the Herald, so I’m guessing it died after the 1962 season. Also in 1963, the Buckskin Drive-In opened near Ignacio, a few miles south of Durango by the Southern Ute Reservation. The article didn’t mention when the Buckskin closed, but there’s little sign of it now.
Inside Durango proper, the Rocket was the only drive-in in town from 1963 until it closed in 2004. It had a great location between US Highway 160 to its north and a scenic bluff at its south. I’m glad to have experienced it before it left us.
There are a lot more memories and a couple of nice photos in the Herald article, so you really should go read it!