According to an article in The Legend Magazine, the South was built by Glen Cooper in 1947. “Cooper and his wife, Roma Loi, rode the wave of drive-in popularity near the crest, flying to Hollywood in their private plane to bring movie stars to town, creating elaborate floats for the Boot Hill Fiesta parade, and constantly expanding the menu in the snack bar.”
After Glen Cooper passed away, his son Ron moved to Dodge City to take over the South. At the time of that Legend article, 2011, he was still using a film projector and worrying about converting to digital. “We’d need a rich philanthropist who’s in love with drive-ins, or some kind of grant to do that,” he said.
Local cell phone company United Wireless explains on its web site what happened next. “In 2012, our region was in danger of losing a real treasure in the South Drive-In Theatre, which just happens to be our neighbor on McArtor Road. … So we bought it from the previous owners, made some upgrades for showing films in digital format, and have been having a ball giving our friends and neighbors a great place to have fun on warm evenings.”
The South opened for the 2017 season just last weekend, but at this time of year it only shows movies Fridays through Sundays. That meant another Thursday night without the fun and camaraderie of a shared viewing experience under the stars.
Miles Today / Total: 131 / 11906 (rounded to the nearest mile)
Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 51
Nearby Restaurant: In Dodge City, home of fabled cattle drives, I needed to find some steak. That’s why I visited Casey’s Cowtown Club, home of the fabled Dodge City Strip. What I got was a big old-fashioned steak dinner with a large slab of grilled perfection with a salad, potato, and rolls. Yum!
Where I Virtually Stayed: Most of the hotels in Dodge City sit along US 50, or as it’s known in town, Wyatt Earp Boulevard. The Best Western Plus Country Inn & Suites is the closest to the South, and it’s one of the best places to stay in town. For one thing, it’s got its own bar, so that’s nice, and the breakfast eggs are cooked to order. In between, my room had a fridge, a microwave, and good wifi.
Only in Dodge City: From the time the railroads carved the US into four time zones, Dodge City has always observed Central time. But the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad drew its time zone line at its Dodge City station, now restored and serving Amtrak passengers. The ATSF built two large sundials on the station grounds, one marked for Mountain time and another just east of it marked for Central.
Next stop: Mesa Drive-In, Pueblo CO.