May 19: Silver Bow Drive In, Butte MT

Concession stand window reflecting sunset clouds

photo from the Silver Bow Drive-In web site

It’s Day 139 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. Driving to my fourth state / province in as many days, it was another five hours to go from Grangeville ID to the Silver Bow Drive In just west of Butte MT.

The Silver Bow was built by the Hansen Family in 1977, and it’s been owned and operated by them ever since. It began with a single screen, then added a second in 1980. In 2004 the second screen was rebuilt and expanded. The Silver Bow shows just a single movie each on those two screens.

The concession stand and projection booth, built by Jens Hansen I, were moved by the Hansens from the Rustic Drive-In of Deer Lodge MT when they built the Silver Bow. A 2003 article in the Montana Standard suggested that Silver Bow is really just the Rustic relocated.

That article mentioned the long history and determination of the Silver Bow and the people who ran it. “In late August 1992, six inches of snow blanketed the Butte area. (Operator Mark) Hansen was undaunted. ‘You could see the picture in the snow,’ he said.”

With a choice of two movies, I didn’t have to watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 for a fifth time. (I have a feeling that sentence should end with “yet”.) Instead, I chose the other feature, the R-rated Mothers Day comedy Snatched. Goldie Hawn was amazing in Laugh-In; I really believed she was a ditz as I watched that show live when I was too young to know any better. Good to see her still getting work at 72.

Miles Today / Total:  284 / 16265 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Snatched / 62

Nearby Restaurant: After seeing it on Man vs. Food, I had to visit the Freeway Tavern, home of a Butte tradition. The Wop Chop pork chop sandwich is a whole pork chop deep-fried, covered with mustard and pickles, and served on a bun. Fight that tasty grease with a cold beer for a balanced, albeit unhealthy, one-of-a-kind meal.

Where I Virtually Stayed: It’s hard to go wrong at a Hampton Inn, and the wifi here was especially peppy. I splurged an extra $9 on a larger room; sometimes it just feels better to be able to swing my arms. In addition to a comfy king bed, the “study” had a fridge and microwave. Breakfast was the standard, solid Hampton fare. In a week of long drives, my stay was a dose of predictability, in a good way.

Only in Butte: One of the most historic places in Butte is the Dumas Brothel Museum. According to Wikipedia, the Dumas was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 while it was still an active house of prostitution. When it closed in 1982, it was the longest operating brothel in the United States, having operated for 92 years, long after prostitution was outlawed.

Next stop: American Dream Drive-In, Powell WY.

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