A 2012 Salina Journal article quoted by a commenter at Cinema Treasures said the Kanopolis Drive-In opened in 1952. OnlyInYourState claims that it was built by a “World War II veteran laid off from the salt mines”. Some reports suggest that its original name was the Lakeview, although it’s about 10 miles from Kanopolis Lake.
Whatever its name, the drive-in showed movies to cars in its small lot (about 150 cars) until it closed in 2006. Josh Webb and his family bought the place in late 2011 and reopened it for the 2012 season. “The years are starting to add up, and we didn’t want to see it fall down any more than it was,” he said.
The drive-in is only open weekends this time of year, leaving me with a Wednesday night watching TV in my room. At least I was able to get an early start for the next morning’s drive.
Miles Today / Total: 114 / 11775 (rounded to the nearest mile)
Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 51
Nearby Restaurant: The place to eat in Kanopolis is Orozco’s Portales Cafe. The tortillas are homemade, and this unassuming place provides an authentic Mexican experience at a reasonable price.
Where I Virtually Stayed: There are no hotels in Kanopolis. I love a good historic hotel, so I drove up old US 40 to the Midland Railroad Hotel in Wilson. I sprang for a jacuzzi room, so I enjoyed a relaxing bath while soaking in history. My room was clean, the wifi worked, and the continental breakfast was all that I needed before another day on the highways of Kansas.
Only in Kanopolis: According to Wikipedia, in 1885 a 17-member group from Ohio purchased 4,740 acres, including recently decommissioned Fort Harker and its buildings, for $71,000. The town’s name came because the group believed it would soon become a “Central Metropolis,” because of its location. Newspaper advertisements proclaimed that Kanopolis was “destined to be the railroad, commercial, and manufacturing capital of Kansas.” The town tripled its population from 1900 to 1940, but never had as many as 1000 residents.
Next stop: South Drive-In Theatre, Dodge City KS.