All posts by Tim Johnson


Welcome to our site that celebrates the rich History and Cultural Diversity of Red Rocks Park in Morrison Colorado. 2

The HDR Photo shown above was taken during the “Shpongles” Red Rocks performance on May10th, 2014.   One of the finest light shows that year due to the ideal conditions of a thick cloud cover over Mt. Morrison and the Amphitheater.

When the music plays so do the people and laser lights that night seemed to beam into the clouds like little torch flames?   Special nights, lights, music and Mother Nature make for the perfect concert happenings of your life with loved ones to share here on the Rock.

When asked most people will say, “Red Rocks is always the best place to see and hear a concert in Colorado” and for many too the best place in the World.

On top of being the best place for a concert Red Rocks Park is also an ideal classroom and destination for not only the local Natural History but also the History of the West.

History of Red Rocks Park

Composed in a geologic deep timeline of deposited conglomerate sediments from the ancient Rocky Mountains; formed by one of Mother Natures’ laws effected by gravity called, Superposition that began almost 300 million years ago in a supercontinent named, Pangaea; split into two Big Mama Mega+Continents called, Laurasia and Gondwana.  The current Red Rocks Fountain Formation sediments in Colorado are uplifted to nearly a forty-degree angle from originally deposited horizontally that were sculpted in the Laramide Orogeny and weathered by time.

Just recently the City of Denver trademarked Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre the vision of many including John B. Walker.   Mr. Walker had sold the Garden of Titans to John Ross of Bear Creek Development Corp…  When John Walker was going to lose the property in a Tax Sale, due to his ongoing financial problems in the 1920’s.  However, the City and County of Denver states that it purchased The Park of the Red Rocks from Walker for the price of $54,133 dollars when there is no record of the sale in the Jefferson County Records and such a deed of sale.  John Ross was Harold Ross’s brother whom started the New Yorker Magazine.  Johns Walker started the Cosmopolitan magazine and both were investing in the Future of the west.  Johns Ross and his daughter Mary named it, Park of the Red Rocks together with Mary’s new husband, A. Quaintance.   They were the last owners and operators of the Red Rocks Park before Denver and the Federal Government used eminent domain to take over the attraction with the property for the CCC Camp in Morrison.

Duly noted for the record, this is an incorrect and revisionist history made by Denver to hide the darker side of how the City came to own the Park through condemnation and Eminent Domain abuse.

Denver actually went outside its Corporate Boundary to overtake and annex land to expand the assets of the city in the midst of a developing Auto Nation and Car Culture.   This plan was to lead competition with Colorado Springs and the car culture built around car travel up places like Pikes Peak; only here it’s Mt. Evans and the newly named Lariat Loop.

Then in 1925 the City of Denver began its buy out and use eminent domain to take over the property in Unincorporated Jefferson County to create the Denver Mountain Parks.  Simply through a hallmark use of Eminent Domain, Denver was able to condemn The Park of the Red Rocks and compensate John Ross and Bear Creek Development Corp for the property.

Later in the 1935 the city planners and the Urban Landscape Architect Frederick Law Olmsted; with the architect Burnham Hoyt were able to envisioned the Red Rocks Park as it is today.  Denver Mayor and controversial KKK leader Benjamin Stapleton with George Cranmer’s idea, lobbied by John Walker, started Denver Mtn. Parks with the help of the Federal Government and the help of the People to create the CCC camp in Morrison along with the Federal Gov. WPA workers in FDR’s Presidency to end the Depression era.  They built what we call today the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre that opened in 1941.

The CCC camp in Morrison still remains intact as one of the finest and only examples of a working WPA camp from that era.    Too bad that the CCC camp remains closed to public viewing; however, just recently in 2018 the City of Denver Council voted to fund and restore the CCC camp and make it available to the public.  Makes one wonder why the City and County of Denver had never completed the Historic Registry until last year when it received its’ National Historic Registry?   We look forward to see the CCC camp open to all History Buffs, Photographers and visitors alike.   We truly celebrate this exciting time in Living History with our Geologic and Artistic Classroom called the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre in Morrison Colorado.

Red Rocks Park operates today as the finest outdoor concert venue and Amphitheatre in the World.  Mother Nature and its peeps totally stage a spectacular Natural Class Act for the Creative Arts, History, Science, Cultural Gatherings, Spiritual Connections and Fitness for Communing in Nature.

Here we also plan to explore the rich ancient human inhabitants of the Paleo-Indians here up until the current times.   There have been many caretakers of the Red Rocks in this Front Range Colorado location from the Clovis People, Woodland Indians and the Lodeska Tribe, to its’ former owners/occupiers the Ute Mountain Tribe.

After the Native Americans surrendered the park location known today the developers first started and named as it the Garden of Angels soon after the Town of Morrison began in 1875.   One could take the Denver South Park and Pacific Railroad train out to Morrison.  Then rent a donkey and ride up into the park, picnic and view the beautiful lookout over creation as the marvel it truly is. Then the early rock monolith named Creation Rock, located on the North side of the Amphitheater.  Later when John Walker owned the park and renamed it, The Garden of Titans, he called the north side monolith rock, Ship Rock. This was because the rock looks exactly like the stern of a ship, The Titanic, as seen going down and seemingly sinking as it did into the North Atlantic Ocean along with local celebrity Molly Brown who survived and the event.    She was given nickname of The Unsinkable Molly Brown due to her luck and perseverance during that tragedy.

Yes, Rock Climbing was encouraged then as a railing was built along with steps that were carved into Ship Rock to go to the ships stern.  Before when it was called the Creation Rock one could climb up there and look out over creation.  The railing that resembled the Titanic ships deck railing is long gone; but one can still see those steps carved into the rock today.  Somehow the City of Denver has decided to call the Historic rock Creation Rock once again.  Walker built a modern cog train called a Funicular up Mt. Morrison which was actually called a Railroad Train because Walker felt the people were to stupid to know the difference between the two; much less pronounce it.  Of note, climbing on the Red Rocks will reap you the handsome fine of $999 dollars if you get caught on them as a rock hopping explorer.

John B. Walker took his dream one step further when he purchased the land in the early 1900’s.   He renamed the former attraction called, The Garden of the Angels into The Garden of Titans.  Walker maintained a metal handrailing that looked just like an Ocean liners ships railing and carved stairs up the newly named Ship Rock to the stern of the sinking Titanic attraction called, Ship Rock.  The old name for that rock was called the Creation Rock truly overlooked over all of creation but Walker switched the rocks names.  This because of Walkers’ theme choice in the newly purchased park of The Garden of Titans it particular looked much more like the imagined sinking Titanic Ship.   Sinking that which was first named originally as Creation Rock.    John Walker decided to change the other South monolith rock in the Garden of Titans, to still very popular, Creation Rock.  The third rock to the East in the Amphitheatre is and always has been the stage called, Stage Rock.

This was the coming of age for the famed personality, The Unsinkable Molly Brown era in the US and Denver History.   So, John Walker maintained that ships metal handrail looks of the Titanic for his big north side monolith called Ship Rock as the all new big Attraction for the Park. Folks could climb up the stairs holding onto the metal railing on that sinking Ship Rock up onto the pretend bow of the Titanic and look about as it appeared to go down as a sinking ship.   The City of Denver removed and cut off the metal railing; but the rock stairs can be seen today if you look closely from a distance.   John B. Walker also built a spectacular Funicular to the top of Mt. Morrison still seen as a straight pathway scar up the face of the mountain.

The final owner of the Park of the Red Rocks Attraction and the land around it was John Ross of Morrison.  Then in the early 1920’s a constitutional action was taken by the City and County of Denver to condemn and declare dominant Eminent Domain over Red Rocks and land in Jefferson County.  John Walker wanted to sell the land to Denver but John Ross bought it and started Bear Creek Development Co. as Walker wanted to be the developer.    This move by Denver was seen by the land owners as illegal and contested all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court.  Ross -V- City and County of Denver case was decided and lost to Denver.   Then ordered to pay for eminent domain property as just compensation.  The fight against Denver’s legal ability to go outside their Corporate Boundary and claim this incredibly valuable property as their own for the People of Denver, for practically nothing.   Then City of Denver, plus the Federal Government at the CCC camp in Morrison, took over this and other property for their futuristic designs of a Denver Mountain Parks throughout Unincorporated Jefferson County.    The fight with Denver using the Eminent Domain protocol and takeover began in 1923 with this case of John Ross and Bear Creek Development Corp. -v- The City and County of Denver.  Bear Creek Development Corporation took this case all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court.   It was then decided in favor of Denver as a dominant Eminent Domain case.  If Denver payed John Walker $54,133.00 for the Park of the Red Rocks as they claim in their revisionist history; they forgot to mention that it was actually purchased through an abusive use of eminent domain.  There remains factual and controversial case information that exists regardless of the made-up History of how Denver came to own this now Historic Landmark and National Treasure.








Class: Insecta

Order: Hymenoptera

Family: Vespidae (Paper Wasps, Yellow Jackets, Hornets etc:)

This group of insects is familiar to us all, the wasps. Not only does the ‘BUZZ’ Sound of the wings evoke the primal insect of “fight or fight;” but a brightly colored insect like this wasp is ingrained in our brains as well, a warning to respect them, or risk the consequences. No, doubt a hard lesson of “learn instincts” as a child and definitely carried through our adulthood.


The Wasp below shown feasting on a One-Sided Penstemon, the local fast-food joint and home builders store is had at work and seemingly oblivious to my “flash fill” and several shots.


In North America, there are around 325 species. There are solitary species of wasps as well as social species in which there is a division of labor between queens, workers and males. Most species provision their larvae with insects or other animals. Social Vespidae construct nests from chewed pulp consisting of flowers, wood, vegetation or mud. In temperate regions, the nests are seasonal with only the queen over wintering.



Class: Insecta

Order: Mantodea

Family: Mantidae

The Garden Praying Mantis are carnivorous predacious insects in which the first pair of legs has developed completely for capturing prey. Below is a stylized gray scale relief of a “Dragon”; notice the elongated coxae (the first segment of the leg). In most insects, the coxae are quite small in comparison with the femur or tibia, not the case here just the opposite. Mantises have a highly developed sense of sight and can detect motion from a good distance away.


In addition, the head of this insect can swivel around and “look backward over its shoulder”. With her keen eye fixed on a meal the male, much smaller, still has to be careful how he approaches to court her in the Mating Ritual or become Lunch in the process. Then at the end of summer in early Autumn She seeks dense cover under fallen tree branches or timber for protection to produce a three-growth stage, dual larvae nest made of a Natural Foam Material similar to the synthetic creation of Dow Chemicals, Polystyrene…material called Styrofoam.


Worldwide there is around 1800 species most of which occur in the tropics. The earliest fossil Mantidae appear in the Cretaceous period roughly 130 million years ago.   My Vote goes to the Mantis for the best of Bug Show in the Sex award category, meal et al.   Even after their heads have been chewed off by their female partners, these various insects continue to have sex for up to eight hours.



Class: Insecta

Order: Lepidoptera

Family: Lycaenidae (moths and butterflies)


Lycaenidae are small, delicate butterflies with bright and striking coloration. A good characteristic of this family (of which there are around 160 species in North America) is the white bands of scales around the antennae as well as around the eye. This one is turned into the wind and gripping this Senecio Flower to ride out the afternoons turbulent breeze.




Class: Insecta

Order: Hemiptera

Family: Cicadidae

Red_Rocks_Park-Cicada400X300So, Who hits those real high ear piercing notes that’s a true bug performer/ rock and roll star? Definitely the Cicada’s rhythmically magical riffs ringing in the days hot times. Always a local favorite musical performer here as the boys of Dog-Days Summer. When Large groups of males congregate together to call a Female Mate it’s called, “Chorusing Centers,” The males can sing almost as loud as a concert here at the Red Rocks Amphitheater; well, almost- like between 80 and 100 decibels, where a rock concert can easily exceed 120 decibels.

Cicadas are a family of insects in the Order Hemiptera. Within the last few years the order Hemiptera was considered two separate orders Hemiptera and Homoptera. Hemipterans are considered the “true bugs”, those with sucking mouthparts. Homopterous also have sucking mouthparts and show enough similarities with Hemiptera to be considered the same order. All insects in the former order of Homoptera feed on plants.

Species of Cicadas are considered either dog-day cicadas or periodical cicadas. The periodical cicadas are among the longest living insects known. As you may have heard about on the news the 17 yr cicadas hatched out in the spring of 2004 in the Northeast of the United States. Scientist still don’t know why the timing is so accurate to the 17th yr exactly. There are six species of periodical cicadas; three 17 yr and three 13 yr types. In North America these insects are among the largest reaching lengths of 5 cm with the smallest about half that in size. Along Bear Creek in Morrison and Mt. Vernon Creek next to the Red Rocks appear these Dog-day cicadas every Summer.

Cicadas will fly up and crawl out to the tips of branches to lay eggs in the end twigs of trees and shrubs thus damaging that small area beyond the point of no return causing its demise and then falls to the ground. The egg develops for around a month before hatching into a larvae. When the damaged twig falls onto the ground the hatching nymph crawls under the ground and buries itself. Underground the larvae will find a root (mostly perennials) and using its sucking mouth parts (proboscis) attach itself to the root.

The sole food of the insect nymph comes from liquids flowing in the “plumbing” of a Tree Root and plants living in improved organic soil and can go a long way in explaining why the developmental time is so long for the 17 year variety. Beside a few trace minerals there is very little nutrition in a Tree Root and other plants including the rhizoid on root hairs.

Before the last molt to adulthood, the cicada will climb out of the ground opening little holes too, they crawl up into the natural grasses or other plants for cover to shed its final protective casing. In the summer these holes and casings seen (below) are readily observable. The adults live about a month or so around here until the cycle starts all over again.

While you may not have seen one of these magnificent insects you certainly have heard then. The often deafening sound that is so high pitched that its ringing becomes a familiar ‘Rock’ tune in the “dog days of summer.” Sometimes leading to crescendo’s of ear piercing length seemly inescapable at times when produced by hundreds cicadas, in the dog-day afternoon, of Tibicen pruinosa (seen above).

These high pitched ringing sounds are produced by the males to woe a Mate by what are called tymbals on the underside of the first abdominal segment. These tymbals are composed of rib like bands that contract and snap due to muscle control. A majority of space in the insect (last thoracic segment and first 5 segments of the abdomen) is a large air sac that acts as a resonator for the sound produced from the tymbals. Not all cicadas produce sound this way. A few species perform stridulating or wing-banging to produce sounds.


Class: Insecta

Order: Hemiptera

Family: Phymatidae (ambush bugs)Red_Rocks_Park-Phymatidae400X300

Hard to follow the Cicadas act…then, which ‘true’ bug has the sexy bad boy reputation with the big guns to back it up?

These predacious bugs were once classified with the family Reduviidae (assassin bugs) but recently given family status. Both assassin and ambush bugs, as their name suggests, are voracious predators feeding on all types of arthropods. Reduviidae in the genus Triatoma are vectors of disease (sleeping sickness) among humans.


The Phymatidae (shown above) feeds mainly on bees, wasps (Hymenoptera), flies (Diptera) and of course a miller moth or two. They are stouter than the assassin bugs with enlarged fore limbs for grasping onto their prey. These brightly colored insects prefer flowers of similar or equal color value, such as this “Blazing Star” (Liatris punctata) to hid in camouflage for an ambush position grasping onto prey as it approaches to feed.


Beatles Concert at Red Rocks

Welcome to our site that celebrates the rich History and Cultural Diversity of Red Rocks Park in Morrison Colorado.

The HDR Photo shown above was taken by me during the “Shpongles” Red Rocks performance on May10th, 2014.   One of the best light shows I’ve seen in a while.  Thick cloud cover over Mt. Morrison plus the Red Rocks; moreover, the Rocks Rock when used as backdrops for Laser Energy play.   Light Beams above and off into the clouds….

Image provided by The Mountain/Archer Audio Archives
Image provided by The Mountain/Archer Audio Archives

Speaking of being off in the clouds…I attended the Beatles Concert here at the Red Rocks one half a century ago with my older cousins and friends.   To be honest I remember not liking the concert due to slight but annoying hearing loss.    Yes the Ringo ringing went away in a few days.

It’s not that one doesn’t love the Beatles and still do~do; it was because of thousands of creepy screaming girls.  They were all screaming so loud during the entire concert I had to hold my hands over my ears to prevent my hearing from being hurt.   Wish I’d brought some cotton balls for ear plugs.  It’s hard to enjoy a concert when grown women and young girls alike all screaming behind me, to the left, to the right and in front at the same time.   A surge of women rushed the stage screaming and couldn’t really hear anything else over all those thousands of screams.

More not less screaming and as quickly as the Beatles were on stage, then they were off stage and the concert was over in what seemed to be or should I say “Let it Be” twenty minutes or so….    That experience has set the stage for all the concerts good, bad and Ugly.   I have seen my share and heard many a show too, follow, some of the best concerts I’ve ever seen on the Rocks; except for the Historic Mile Hi events like Pink Floyd another true classic rock moment in time.

Today’s concerts Brit sensations are like “Mumford and Sons”

or our local band “Devotchka” that set the stage for future music classics.  Here’s my dilemma when comparing concerts such as “Devotchka” and all their young and old hipsters alike.

image provided by
image provided by

“Destroid” and The Global Dance Fest -V- Devotchka has all the psychedelic folk happenings; but just seems pretty base boring to some if you’re not tripping.

One is orchestrated music/parting tune-age soul like “Devotchka” and the other is no songs at all with Party DJ Destroid tunes for the gamer generation running nonstop.  To the end all the RAVER E-vents called a Global Dance Festival Party and just, “let’s make some noise!” Sadly E-nough if you’re not on E then it’s just….
Speaking of average wonder what the average cut off age, from hip dude to creepy old guy, is for the Dub-steppers Dance Festivals or should I say E-vents…for Dudes?  One feels somewhere around the age of Twenty one, maybe?  Feel so creepy walking out just to go….  Some 17 year old chica’s hanging around in their Bra’s and Bikini bottoms near the ticket booth here at the Rocks.   Then just have to look away trying not to stare and thinking; “now I’ve become the creepy old guy.”   Yep U are rite, my only choice as a creepy old guy is to go see even creeper older guys playing in concert.   Crosby, Stills and Nash come to mind.  Sorry, don’t get me wrong because I still loves me some Stills; and where’s Neil, ‘not so’ Young when you need him this 2014 Summer of Stars at the Rocks?