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Identification:

Preferred Structure Name:
Rim Rock Drive
Structure Number:
ROUTE-10-00
Other Structure Name(s):
 
Other Structure Name(s)
1. 
Scenic Rim Rock Road
Park:
Colorado National Monument
Historic District:
 
Historic District
1. 
Rim Rock Drive
Structure State:
Colorado
Structure County:
Mesa
Region:
Intermountain
Cluster:
Colorado Plateau
Administrative Unit:
Colorado National Monument
LCS ID:
052103
 
Historical Significance:

National Register Status:
Entered - Documented
National Register Date:
04/21/1994
National Historic Landmark?:
No
Significance Level:
Local
Short Significance Description:
Built as a Depression-era Scenic Automobile Highway, Rim Rock Drive Historic District is significant under criterion A and C as one of the most impressive and significant examples of PWA and CCC work in western Colorado. Periods of significance are 1925-1949 and 1950-1974.
Long Significance Description:
Built as a Depression-era Scenic Automobile Highway, Rim Rock Drive Historic District is significant under criterion A for its representation of the second stage in the improvement of automobile access to and development of the Colorado National Monument. The HD is associated with the historic context "Development of Automobile Routes and Access, 1911-1950." The 22.42-mile scenic loop, as the first modern road in the monument, is significant to the monument';s development as a recreational attraction and allowed increased tourism at the park.

Second it falls under Criterion C for its representation of the National Park Service';s "rustic" style of landscape architecture using native materials found in the area. As a Depression-era public works road-building project involving the CCC, PWA, WPA and Roads and Trails, laborers and builders used natural materials in creating the road and its features. As a road-engineering masterpiece of the Depression era, Rim Rock Drive is one of the most impressive and significant examples of PWA and CCC work in western Colorado.

Periods of significance for the development of Rim Rock Drive are 1925-1949 and 1950-1974.

The Rim Rock Drive is a linear district situated within Colorado National Monument situated on the top rim of several canyons. In order to incorporate all associated roadway features into its boundaries, the typical width of the linear district is 300 feet. The district narrows at a few points where there are no associated features in order to exclude non-contributing resources. From an elevation of 4,690 feet on the valley floor, the road employs a series of long switchbacks and two tunnels to reach the top of the mesa at an elevation of 5,700 feet.

Intensive applications of manual labor, rather than heavy machinery, were employed in the construction of the road. The path of the road ran through solid rock for most of its length, requiring drilling, blasting and removal of the shattered rock. A good deal of sledgehammer and pick work was involved and a substantial amount of material was removed by hand or pulled by horses using small dump carts on rails. Three tunnels, the largest of which was more than five hundred feet in length, were excavated through solid rock. The roadwork required extensive planning and complicated engineering, especially that portion through rugged No Thoroughfare Canyon.

Because the road was intended as a scenic highway, extra engineering considerations were involved in selecting the route and the final design hugged the canyon rims and incorporated switchbacks which facilitated the climb in elevation which providing motorist with panoramic views of the natural setting. The road followed the rim of the mesa, following the winding curves of the canyons to permit views of the depths.

This area was established by President William H. Taft on May 24, 1911, (No. 1126) under authority provided by the Antiquities Act of 1906. Changes and additions to the monument's boundaries were made through Presidential Proclamations No. 2037 in March 3, 1933 (mentions Rim Rock Drive specifically) and No. 3307 in 1959 (boundary changes to monument).
 
Construction Period:

Construction Period:
Historic
Chronology:
 
Physical Event
Begin Year
Begin Year CE/BCE
End Year
End Year CE/BCE
Designer
Designer Occupation
1. 
Built
1931
CE
1932
CE
NPS
Other
2. 
Designed
1932
CE
1934
CE
NPS Office of the Chief Engineer
Engineer
3. 
Designed
1932
CE
1933
CE
Cutler, S. L.
Engineer
4. 
Designed
1932
CE
1932
CE
TWS
Engineer
5. 
Built
1933
CE
1942
CE
ECW/CCC
Other
6. 
Built
1933
CE
1942
CE
ERA
Other
7. 
Built
1933
CE
1942
CE
PWA
Other
8. 
Built
1933
CE
1942
CE
WPA
Other
9. 
Designed
1937
CE
1937
CE
JHD
Engineer
10. 
Designed
1937
CE
1937
CE
Eglinton
Architect
11. 
Designed
1937
CE
1939
CE
NPS Branch of Engineering
Engineer
12. 
Designed
1938
CE
1938
CE
JBH
Engineer
13. 
Designed
1938
CE
1938
CE
Cronyn
Engineer
14. 
Designed
1938
CE
1939
CE
Hitchings, E. B.
Engineer
15. 
Designed
1938
CE
1938
CE
Richey, Charles A.
Architect
16. 
Designed
1938
CE
1938
CE
NPS Branch of Plans and Design
Architect
17. 
Altered
1964
CE
1970
CE
NPS
Other
18. 
Designed
1964
CE
1964
CE
Biermann
Engineer
19. 
Designed
1964
CE
1964
CE
NPS Branch of Engineering
Engineer
 
Function and Use:

Primary Historic Function:
NPS Class I Principal Road
Primary Current Use:
NPS Class I Principal Road
Structure Contains Museum Collections?:
No
Other Functions or Uses:
 
Other Function(s) or Use(s)
Historic or Current
No records.
 
Physical Description:

Structure Type:
Road
Material(s):
 
Structural Component(s)
Material(s)
1. 
Superstructure
Concrete
2. 
Superstructure
Asphalt
3. 
Superstructure
Stone
Short Physical Description:
Rim Rock Drive is a paved, two-lane, two-way 22.42-mile long highway that runs generally east west through Colorado National Monument. Rim Rock Drive includes the road, three tunnels, and numerous associated roadway features which were a part of the road design.
Long Physical Description:
Rim Rock Drive is a paved, two-lane, two-way 22.42-mile long highway that runs generally east west through Colorado National Monument along the rims of the major canyons. Rim Rock Drive includes the road, three tunnels, and numerous associated roadway features which were a part of the road design, including scenic overlooks, guard walls, retaining walls, culverts, ditches, drop inlets and drainage tunnels. The drive and its features were built using native materials to the area.