Friday, December 2, 2016

The Star of Castle Rock - A Community Symbol of Hope

Blogger: Amber Schamel

Castle Rock in 1917
Most of my growing up years were spent in the vicinity of Castle Rock, Colorado. This is a quaint town along the I-25 corridor between Denver and Colorado Springs. The town is named after a large rock structure that is visible for some time before and after you drive through the town. To me, it never quite looked like a castle, but apparently to the early settlers, it did.

Around this time of year, one of the things that my siblings and I looked forward to the most was seeing the Christmas star shining from the top of Castle Rock. As we were driving, we'd always watch for it to come into sight. The star is quite an icon for the community, but until recently, I didn't know the interesting history behind it.

During the height of the Depression and Dustbowl, the community around Castle Rock, Colorado was desperate. Besides the terrible economy, there was also a drought. Out of work and watching their crops dry up and the soil blow away, the farmers in the area were losing hope. In 1936, community leaders in Castle Rock came up with a plan to give the town a boost. They would build a huge star and light it up for all to see, which would hopefully draw the attention of travelers and bring more business to the area.

The man who owned "The Rock" happily donated the portion of land for the giant star to set on. The people of the community pulled together to make the project happen. The Town Council donated the funds for the material, the design was drafted by the Works Progress Administration, and local businesses supplied gas and electrical work. The work on the Castle Rock star had begun. 

The most difficult part of the project was tackled by the Volunteer firemen. The Castle Rock was 290 foot tall at the time and there was no road or trail. The men lugged forty foot steel rods to the top and welded them together. The local electric and telephone company donated the poles and wire to run electricity to the top. 

Castle Rock Star - 1940
Courtesy of the Douglas County
History Research Center used under Creative Commons
At last, the star was finished. At forty-five feet tall with almost 100 light bulbs, the star would shine from 5pm to midnight throughout the Christmas season. This tradition carried on from 1936 until 1940, but in 1941, the hope that shined forth from that star was challenged again.

As the United States committed every resource to the efforts of WWII, the rationing of electricity extinguished the star of Castle Rock, though the structure remained. Even during its dim years, the star symbolized the sacrifice of a community for the war effort.

Finally, on August 14,1954, the war was over. That night, the community transformed the star and lit it up in a giant "V" as the people celebrated victory late into the night. 

In 1965, new community leaders began a star lighting ceremony. This ceremony has been an intricate part of the Castle Rock community ever since. Multiple times it has been threatened by energy crisises and community hardships, but it has stood the test of time. 
Photo by Jeff Albright

This year is the star's 80th birthday.  It is lit the week before Thanksgiving and stays illuminated until after the National Western Stock Show. 

To me, the star represents hope and the strength of a community when we work together. Does your community have a symbol like this? I'd love to hear about it!



Author of over half a dozen books, Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for travel, history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest".  She lives in Colorado and spends half her time volunteering in the Ozarks. Visit her online at and download a FREE story by subscribing to her Newsletter!


  1. Thank you, Amber. I've delighted in this star many times as we've traveled along I-25. Now knowing the history, the sight will be even more impressive!

    1. Thanks for stopping by today, Sherida! I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. :)
      Safe travels!

  2. Very interesting info. Thank you Amber. :-)

  3. What a cool story. I love when a town has a tradition like this. So glad the star is still shining.

  4. Interesting post. Thanks for sharing Amber. I haven't traveled along I-25.