Drive-ins of Iowa

Iowa is the only one of the fifty American states that has
a name which begins with two vowels. Iowa is also the only state
whose western and eastern boundaries are completely formed by water
(by the Missouri and Mississippi rivers).  Some other firsts and onlys ..

Iowa is home to the world's biggest producer of breakfast cereal
(Quaker Oats); and it is host to America's only Balloon Museum; and
home to both the world's shortest & steepest railway; and, was home to
the 31st president of the United States (Herbert Hoover), who was
the first U.S. President to have been born west of the Mississippi.

While on the subject of births, some of Hollywood's best known
actors and actresses were whelped in Iowa, including:  Donna Reed
(although the folks in and around Denison knew her when she was still
Donnabelle Mullenger); Cloris Leachman; Tom Arnold; and John Wayne.

 The Bridges of Madison County IOWA

And Oh,  speaking of film ..  what about that Clint Eastwood
- and -  Meryl Streep cropduster, The Bridges of Madison County ?
All them wooden bridges were in Madison County, IOWA.  There are
six of them altogether. The longest is:  the Holliwell Bridge, and
the oldest is:  the Imes Bridge.  If you like that sort of thing -
in other words, the presence of The Past, there's lots of other
counties and cities in and around Iowa with old tales to tell ..

 1913 Carousel in Story City, Iowa

you take Story City for example:  that's where you'll find the
only operational classic antique vintage oh my gosh a real Carousel
in all of Iowa, and it's where you'll also find Iowa's oldest theatre.

You'll find some old timers among Iowa's outdoor theatres as well.
During the boom years for America's Drive-ins,   back in the 50's,
there were once nearly 70 Dr'ins operating in the Hawkeye State.
Since that time 96% of Iowa's ozoners have gone dark or have been
demolished, and presently there are only 3 which remain in operation.
Interestingly though, these few survivors are a hardy bunch and have
each endured for more than half a century. Here then is the most-recent
closing, and the 3 stragglers that we can still enjoy and show support for.

  • Cedar Falls (Black Hawk County) Iowa
    Hillcrest Drive-in:   GONE
    formerly located at 9614 University Avenue
    near the University of Northern Iowa

    After a quarter of a century, the lights went out in
    Cedar Falls for the last time on the evening of Sunday,
    September 3rd, 2000. Among many fond memories of
    the Hillcrest:   the triple-features for same admission
    price on Friday & Saturday nites (with double-features
    on most other nites); old fashioned car window speakers
    in addition to radio audio;   the Pizza ..   delivered right to
    your car.   Gone,   all but the memories. And we couldn't
    not notice the unintended irony- that on the marquee for
    that last and very final Triple Feature Weekend - was listed:
    Gone in 60 Seconds.   The property was sold,   the Drive-in
    demolished, gone, to make way for a housing development.

  • Council Bluffs (Pottawattamie County) Iowa
    Council Bluffs Drive-in Theatre:  712-366-0422
    located at 1130 South Omaha Bridge Road
    (3 miles east of the South Omaha Bridge)

    Season 2002 is CB's 52nd consecutive year. The quite classic
    and well-maintained single screen venue which has a capacity
    for 600 cars has been a fixture here for half a century. On
    the Weeknites they're screening double features, adding a
    third feature 'LateShow' on Friday and Saturday nites.
    Admission: $6 (ages 11 & under admitted free).

  • Maquoketa (Jackson County) Iowa
    61 Drive-in:   563-674-4367
    Located 5 miles south of Maquoketa
    on Highway 61  (off of Exit 153)

    * This is the smallest of Iowa's three remaining Dr'ins,
    with a capacity for just under 200 cars.   Season 2002
    is the 61's 51st consecutive year; the screen was dark
    for only 1 of its 52 years (for the season of '88). They are
    screening 1 movie each nite (May-October); periodically, a
    double-feature for same admission price on MemDay wknd
    and certain other special occasions. Admission: adults $6
    except on Wednesdays, when the driver of the vehicle is
    admitted free;   kids 12&under are always admitted free.

  • Newton (Jasper County) Iowa
    Valle Drive-in:  641-792-3558
    located at 4074 Highway F48 (Old Highway 6)

    * The oldest of Iowa's operating Drive-ins (since 1948)
    has had four sets of owners down through the years;
    but has been run by the current owner and operating
    continuously since '76; screening double-features.
    There are still some functional traditional speakers
    in addition to AM/FM radio broadcasting of the audio
    which is now enhanced with DTS digital processing.

 Make use of this stamp:  
 send us a Letter about 
 the Drive-ins of Iowa!

If you are aware of any Drive-ins
that we seem to have missed, or
would like to contribute any
information to our efforts,
please use this envelope
to send a letter to us.



 The Guide to Drive-in Movie Theatres

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