May 3: Motor Vu, Idaho Falls

Motor Vu Drive-In marquee

Photo by I.E. Xam from the Carload Flickr pool

It’s Day 123 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I drove a bit over an hour from the Spud Drive In Movie Theater in Driggs ID over to Idaho Falls, home of the Motor Vu drive-in.

Discussions about the Motor Vu tend to include the Sky Vu, another drive-in at the other edge of town, because they’ve been owned as a pair for over 20 years. But it wasn’t always that way. According to its GoFundMe page (more about that later), the Motor Vu “was built in 1947 just after World War II ended. The Motor Vu is potentially one of the first drive ins ever built. The Sky Vu drive in was built sometime around 1951 as a best guess.” The 1959 International Motion Picture Almanac showed the Motor Vu being run by Hugo Jorgensen but the Sky Vu by “Cousins & Prestwich”. The Idaho Falls Post Register wrote that the Leonard family had owned both since 1993.

There have been hiccups. In a 2009 book, Idaho Falls Post Register, William Hathaway wrote, “Idaho Falls went through a summer in 2008 without a drive-in movie. … The owner of both screens decided not to reopen them.”

 

Tim Leonard launched that GoFundMe page in July 2015. “We plan to keep the drive ins open, running 35mm film for as long as we can,” it said. “The companies have been wonderful to make special 35mm prints for us. There is something special about the actual tangible film. It’s sad to see in go away.” The Sky Vu closed in 2015. The Motor Vu was still operating in August 2016, then it closed for the season.

Of the drive-ins I’ve visited this year, this is the first one that is not only closed for the season but might be closed indefinitely. (There have been so many examples of drive-ins coming back to life for me to call any drive-in closure permanent.) It was sad to lose the Sky Vu on the south side of Idaho Springs. It would be even sadder to lose them both.

Miles Today / Total:  68 / 13493 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 55

Nearby Restaurant: Snow Eagle Brewing and Grill had me at “brewing”. I started with a glass of honey rye wheat. And then it turned out that they served food, too! I had the Blue Shroom burger with blue cheese and mushrooms. After a while, it didn’t bother me so much that the Motor Vu was closed tonight.

Where I Virtually Stayed: I found a Home2 Suites location last month and was really happy there, so I was glad to see one in Idaho Falls too. I had a little kitchen (as if I’d cook!) as part of my large room. Breakfast had everything I needed. I’ll keep on looking for this brand as I continue my odyssey.

Only in Idaho Falls: In the middle of a traffic circle on Utah Street near the Porter Canal is a fountain based around statuary of a giant eagle rock waterfall. This Giant Eagle Waterfall Nest commemorates the town’s first name of Eagle Rock.

Next stop: Teton Vu Drive In, Rexburg ID.