Small clues lead to another new drive-in

Let’s put the most important news up front. In Kings Mountain NC, a local family reacted to the closing of the area’s only drive-in theater by starting its own. Hound’s Drive-In opened this year, and it’s an inspiring story of another business that’s keeping this tradition alive.

The Shelby Star ran an article in April anticipating the launch of Hound’s, complete with a bit of video showing what a brand-new drive-in theater looks like. Then in July, the newspaper printed the story of a guy who proposed marriage on the big screen there. It’s all good stuff, and you ought to read both of those articles.

Now I have to tell a story about Carload. Both of those Shelby Star articles ran before I began assembling the Carload database of active drive-ins in the US and Canada. For that task, I used three primary sources: a two-year-old list from Nerve.com, the sadly out-of-date DriveInMovie.com, and Google. Lots of Google. Search results for “(insert state) drive-in theater” were the most reliable listings, but they weren’t perfect.

Another great source for drive-in listings has been a by-product of keeping track of drive-in theater news. When a new one opens, that’s usually worthy of a newspaper article or a local TV news report. And once in a while, something in the news just mentions a drive-in I hadn’t heard of.

Which brings us to the Kings Mountain Herald. In a dusty dry article last week, the Herald listed the local construction permits issued in September. (By the way, that’s truly a core journalistic service to its readers. More papers should do the same.) Buried in that list / article was the mention that a construction company was issued “a building master commercial permit to install bathrooms for the drive-in theater at 114 Raven Circle”. That tiny note led to more searching and the discovery of the brand-new Hound’s, built adjacent to the owner’s campground. And it also implies that, if the owner is building more or better bathrooms, the drive-in must be doing pretty well.

The discovery reminded me of the early, pre-Google days of Carload, when the Comanche of Buena Vista CO wasn’t listed by anybody online. A co-worker who had family in Buena Vista said that on a weekend visit home, he saw cars filing out of the Comanche late at night. The result was a quick visit and the 19-year-old marquee photo that Carload still uses. There may be more active drive-ins that still aren’t on the Carload list. If you know of any, please let me know.

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