Sept. 17: Skowhegan Drive-In, Skowhegan ME

It’s Day 260 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. It only took an hour to drive from Bangor to the Skowhegan Drive-In in Skowhegan ME.

The Skowhegan was built by Lockwood & Gordon Co. of Boston in 1954, according to an article in the Press Herald. At some point, ownership passed to Doug Corson, who was “involved with the drive-in since graduating from Skowhegan High School in 1956.”

In 2012, Corson sold the Skowhegan to Donald C. Brown Jr., who had run the Diamond State Drive-in in Felton DE before its lease ran out. The Press Herald article said the purchase price “took into consideration … the upgrades that were necessary, including the upcoming digital conversion.”

Less than two years later, Brown launched a FundRazr campaign to pay for digital projection equipment. “The quick conversion to digital by Hollywood movie producers took him by surprise,” wrote CentralMaine.com. ““The model the drive-in operates on isn’t viable anymore,” Brown said. “It’s not just the digital projection system itself. It’s the maintenance that goes along with it. … that’s the uncertainty that the Skowhegan faces.”

Somehow the drive-in endured and found its new projectors. Dated February 2017, the last post on that FundRaze page read, “We’d like to thank all of the patrons of the Skowhegan Drive-In who helped us go digital. We didn’t get the full amount, but at least the amount we raised helped with the installation costs.”

It’s also got a nicely restored sign, as I wrote about last year. The town of Skowhegan and the state offered facade grants to small businesses outside of downtown. Brown got a little over $8,000, and now the neon-lit Skowhegan Drive-In Theatre sign is back.

For the video of the day, I could have embedded a short visit to the Skowhegan, but when would I get another opportunity to use a full drive-in tour conducted by small stuffed animals?

Miles Today / Total: 53 / 30815 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: It / 166

Nearby Restaurant: One of the great things about a short drive is that I arrive in time for breakfast. Combine that with a buffet, and you’ve found the place I want to visit, in this cast Ken’s Family Restaurant. All the bacon I could eat! Made-to-order omelettes! Biscuits and gravy! Donuts! Coffee! It’s a great way to get full enough to skip lunch and dinner.

Where I Virtually Stayed: There are a few cute little motels in Skowhegan; the one I chose is The Towne Motel. It’s no chain hotel, but my room had the full set of modern amenities including wifi. Unlike a lot of small motels, the modest price included a modest continental breakfast. It got me going!

Only in Skowhegan: Skowhegan has the world’s tallest Indian statue, 62 feet tall with a 20-foot base. The engraved wooden sign at the statue’s base reads: “Dedicated to the Maine Indians, the first people to use these lands in peaceful ways.” The indigenous Abenaki people named the area Skowhegan, meaning “watching place (for fish).”

Next stop: Bridgton Twin Drive-In, Bridgton ME.

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