Coin Harvey's Amphitheater
at Monte Ne - 2005/2006

Lake Levels marked on Amphitheater

This marked photo can be used to identify features of the west wall of the Monte Ne amphitheater that are currently exposed above the water level of Beaver Lake. Some approximate lake levels are marked from bottom to top of the west side of the amphitheater. The broad and narrow stairs are identified. There is an opening in the wall at the top of the broad stair, but not at the narrow stair. There is another stairway at the right or north side of the west wall. It ends in front of the top bench. There used to be a column there at the north end of the wall.

On the left (south) of the narrow stairs in the photo, there are two platforms or porches. The top porch has a single rectangular drain hole but the lower porch has two. The floor of the upper porch is revealed when the lake level drops below 1107 feet above sea level.

The Pyramid

By 1926 William "Coin" Harvey felt that civilization was coming to an end and wanted to leave a permanent record of the advance of civilization so that the descendents of those who might survive could perhaps recover what had been lost. He wanted to build a pyramid or obelisk 130 feet high on the point of land above the Big Spring at the south end of the lagoon that connected the spring to Oklahoma Row. He built the amphitheater around the Big Spring where the old board walk and gondola dock had been. The amphitheater would have served as the entryway to the vault or time capsule that would have been in the base of the pyramid. The amphitheater was completed in 1928.

This is how Clifton "Gene" Hull, Arkansas railroad historian, described the plans for the pyramid in the July 2005 issue of the Arkansas Railroader. The base of the pyramid was to be 40 feet square and 10 feet high. On that base would be another section 32 feet square and 35 feet high. Then there would be a segment 22 feet square at the base tapering to 6 feet square 85 feet up at the top. That adds to a total height of 130 feet. He would have placed a metal plate on the top with the message "When You Can Read This, Dig Below." There would have been 300 square feet of floor space in the base for the documents, articles, and equipment that he felt defined civilization of the day. The total cost for the project was estimated at $100,000 which would be roughly equivalent to a cost of $2,000,000 today. Harvey realized that he was no longer able to raise that kind of support, so the amphitheater was all he built. His Liberty Party held a convention at Monte Ne in 1932 with some meetings being held in the amphitheater. Harvey was selected the Liberty Party nominee for the presidential election. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover were the other candidates. F.D.R. was 50 years old and Coin Harvey was 80. Herbert Hoover, of course, was running for re-election following the stock market crash of 1929 and the slide into depression. Harvey may have thought he had a chance under those circumstances, but only received 150,000 votes.

Lake Level from High to Low

The hill is an island.
The tower and concrete foundation of Oklahoma Row are the only features of Monte Ne still in their original location and above water all the time. So except for the tower, tomb, and the remaining part of Oklahoma Row, there really isn't much to photograph when the lake level is normal or high. There only other thing that might be of interest is the lake level along the shore, but when the lake is low the higher lake level landscape is not that interesting. However, when I was at Monte Ne in 1968, I did think to take this photograph of the high point behind the amphitheater when the lake was unusually high. I think there was a shallow point where I could have waded across, but I was afraid I would step into a drop-off. I should have had a boat. Now to find a photograph of the same area when the water level was normal or low. The lake level may have been as high as 1125 above sea level when this photo was made.

The hill is an island.
Beaver Lake was almost full in August 1966. The lake level in this photo is about 1113 to 1115 feet above sea level. There is something in the water just left of the green plants in the lower right of the photo. This may be the top of the concrete post or column that used to be at the end of the top bench on the north end of the west wall. That column was gone by 1977 and the next one below it was gone in 2005. The Oklahoma Row tower is right in the center of the photo. There wasn't much clearing and buildup along the shore back then.

But when the lake level falls below about 1115 feet, the amphitheater again begins to see the light of day and a new generation of visitors come to marvel. I'll show what you will see when the level is around 1107 to 1106 feet.

The Amphitheater or Pyramid - 2005

On December 23, 2005 the lake was at 1105' 8". It had been at that level for a few weeks after a slow drop during the summer and fall. By the end of January 2006 the level had fallen to about 1105' 4". This is the north (or northeast) end of the west or high side of the amphitheater. There is a stairway from the base of the amphitheater up to the top concrete couch, the back of which is visible behind my son. There used to be another column beside that top couch and another column between that tree stump and the second couch. There were six columns in all. The fifth one from the top is just under the surface of the water. There is a pile of small rocks on it.

The wall around the top of the amphitheater is an arc that is very obvious now. However, the part below the water is square. The squared off corner and south wall are just beginning to be visible below the surface.

The North Stairway
Stair at Noth End of West Wall
The Broad Stairway
The Broad Stair to the Top of the West Wall
The Narrow Stairway
The Narrow Stair beside the Porches

The first photo shows the columns, stair, and couches at the north end of the west wall. Three couches are above water when the lake level is 1106 feet. Another couch is below water and there is a sort of porch in front of that couch and seven steps lead on down to the walkway around the big spring. The stairway stops in front of the left end of the top couch. The back of the couch is at the bottom of the photo. A walkway led from the top couch around the top of the amphitheater.

The second photo shows the broad stair. It goes straight down to a little platform that is three steps up from the base. The is an opening in the wall at the top of the stair. The water level is at the tenth step down from the threshold between the two columns There is a series of narrow platforms on its left and a series of broader platforms on the right. The platforms seem to be designed for "bring your own" chairs. There are short columns at each end of the broad platforms. The columns on the left of the stair are the similar to the ones on the right although they are at different levels because the platforms are at different levels. The columns between the couches and the narrow platforms match the columns at the other end of the couches.

The third photo shows the narrow stair. It goes straight down to the bottom broad platform. From there you would walk across the platform and climb a couple of steps to get on the broad stair. There is no opening in the wall at the top of the narrow stair. It stops at the walkway at the top of the amphitheater. To the right of the narrow stair and below the walkway is the top porch with the single drain hole. The difference between the porch and the platforms is that there is a little wall around the porch. The is another porch about six feet below the top porch. That porch has two drain holes. Then there is about an eight-foot drop to the sidewalk around the spring. There is a recess and a couch below the second porch. The bottom of the second porch should be visible when the lake level reaches about 1100 feet.

Top of West Wall to North
This view shows the top of the west wall looking north (or northwest). The walkway leads along the wall to the top couch at the north end. There is a small step in the walkway near the bottom of the photo. The porch is to the right with a wall in front of it and short walls on either side. There are little columns at each of the four corners. A bench in the back wall of the porch is visible in this photo. There is a drop-off just this side of the porch. It goes down about three feet to another type of porch. The nature of the broad platforms between the narrow and the broad stairs is obvious in this photo. Louis is standing at the opening in the wall at the top of the broad stair.

The column tops just above the lake surface are on the tall columns beside the bottom couch. They are two or three feet above the back of the couch.

A bench is cast into the wall at the top of the narrow platforms between the couches and the broad stair.

West Wall in July 1977

This is a view of the west wall in July 1977. The lake level was about one foot higher then than it is now. My wife and sons are sitting on the top porch beside the narrow stair. Notice the open platform just this side of the porch. The next feature below that is about three or four feet down. The opening at the top of the broad stair is plainly visible as is the top couch and the bench between the couch and the broad stair. The column beside the second couch was still there back in 1977.

The corner structure is pretty complicated with several columns, walls, and platforms at various levels. There were a couple of openings in the corner at the base of the amphitheater. One was closed with a wooden door. There was a large white surface above the door with something printed on it. The other opening in the corner was sort of like an recess that a water cooler would be located in.

View Along West Wall The North Stair Going into the Water North End of West Side

The first photo shows the view from the front of the third couch on around the corner to the south wall, the high wall, and the driveway down into the water behind the amphitheater. Beside the couch is on of the narrow platforms then two steps of the broad stair followed by a broad platform. The narrow stair steps are not visible, but the porch is. It extends out block the view of the corner.

The second photo shows the north stair as it goes into the water and the top of the column that is even with the back of the fourth couch which is about three feet under the water.

The third photo shows one of the columns, stair, and couches at the north end of the west wall as viewed from below. The column is beside the third couch from the top. The second couch has seashells cast into the front of the arms. The back of the top couch is integral with the wall and the steps stop at the couch. There is a bench against the wall beside the couch.

Louis on the Column - 1977 Louis on same column - 2005

The B&W photo is from July 1977 when the lake level was 1107 feet. Louis is standing on the column by the third couch.

The color photo was made in December 2005 and Louis is standing on the same column. The lake was at 1106 feet.

The Pyramid The Tower

Friends of Monte Ne!

Can the Friends of Monte Ne be reorganized now that there is such great interest in the lost resort? With proper organization, planning, and fund raising, some nice things could be done in the area by the Lake at old Monte Ne.

  1. The old Oklahoma Row foundation and adjoining area could be cleared and made into a picnic area.
  2. A 1/10th-scale model of Harvey's proposed "pyramid" could be built near the Oklahoma Row tower.
  3. The tower could be restored and a log entry room could be built where the Oklahoma Row used to connect to the tower. The room could serve as the entry to the tower and as a museum and gift shop.

It would help to have someone with connections to the local district of the Army Corps of Engineers, the State Parks Department, and maybe some of the local politicians.

If you're interested, e-mail me at and I will pass it on to the interested people who live in the area.

PAGE 1 - The story of Coin Harvey and Monte Ne with photos of the amphitheater.
PAGE 2 - Concrete Bank Block Building and Views of the Lagoon
PAGE 3 - Lodge, Burial Vault, and Photos with the Lake at Three Levels
PAGE 4 - 1977 Lake Level marked on Old Photos, Views into the Water, Checking the Time Capsule, Related Links
PAGE 5 - Lissa Myer's Current photos of the ruins at Monte Ne: the Tower Windows, old foundations, and crowds at the amphitheater.
PAGE 6 - 2005 Views of Oklahoma Row foundation and tower with a new summary of the events of William Hope "Coin" Harvey's involvement with his Monte Ne Resort and the good roads movement. This page includes many links to other informative web sites related to Coin Harvey and Monte Ne.
PAGE 7 - Photo and map of the old townsite with a panoramic photo of some of the foundation ruins on the lake shore and across the lake to the amphitheater. There is a photo that shows the new location of Harvey's tomb. The text includes some comments from a U.S. Corps of Engineers employee who toured the Monte Ne site for the Corps in the early 60s.
PAGE 8 - Coin Harvey's Amphitheater around the Big Spring at Monte Ne. Harvey planned this to be the foyer for his pyramid or obelisk in which he planned to place a "time capsule" or museum room to hold all the important documents and marvels of civilization. However, that was never to be because he was unable to obtain financing. The photos on this page show the upper parts of the amphitheater now exposed by the dropping waters of Beaver Lake. Old photos from before the lake was built and at other times when the lake was low are included for comparison.
PAGE 9 - This page continues the amphitheater description with the south wall. Most of the south wall is under water even with the lake level at 1106 feet above sea level. The south wall may have been the planned entrance to the pyramid and time capsule that Coin Harvey wanted to build. In any case, he probably planned to build the pyramid, or obelisk, on the little hill behind the amphitheater. That little hill is an island when the lake level gets to the 1120 to 1125 range as shown in the photo posted on the previous page.
PAGE 10 - On the side of the hill behind the south wall is a tall retaining wall. The area was so covered in brush in 1961 and I was so hesitant about the possibility of trespassing that I didn't find that wall. There is a paved driveway leading from the east of the amphitheater up to the area above the wall where the railroad depot used to be. There are also panoramic photos of the view from the amphitheater back toward the old Monte Ne town site.
PAGE 11 - Selected Monte Ne Resort photos from the Rogers Historical Museum used by permission. Photo of old Monte Ne in great detail. Photos of the Bank Block when new and years later after it had been gutted by fire or weather. Photos of the amphitheater from its unfinished construction in 1928 and when that part of Beaver Lake was dry in the winter of 1977.
PAGE 12 - 2006 Wedding in the Monte Ne amphitheater. First wedding there in more than 40 years? Photo of Ann in the amphitheater in 2006 compared to a similar photo from 1977.
PAGE 13 - Photos comparing the low lake level in January 2006 with the same areas in January 2007 after the lake level rose about 20 feet.

Pearland Meals on Wheels
A Ministry of Pearland Churches

Skipper Family Magazine
Historic Monte Ne CoverFor a definitive picture album/history of the resort at Monte Ne, purchase Allyn Lord's - "Historic Monte Ne" published by Arcadia Publishing in its Images of America series.

Posted: 1/22/06