Nov. 10: Eden Drive-In, Eden NC

It’s Day 314 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. On this Friday in November, I found a drive-in that was still showing movies, so I drove 2½ hours from Marion VA to the Eden Drive-In in Eden NC of course.

The history is complicated. In the 18th century, Eden was a region of Virginia and North Carolina. In 1795, the town of Leaksville was established on the North Carolina side. Much later in 1967, Leaksville plus the cities of Spray and Draper were consolidated into the single city of Eden.

Back in 1948, there was one drive-in in Leaksville, and it was called the Eden. Within a few years, a second drive-in popped up in town. The newer drive in was called the Leaksville (or New Leaksville by some accounts). Both of them, and others in the region, were owned by D. E. Gwynn.

By the end of the 1970s, the Leaksville seems to have closed. The Eden, which was now in the recently formed city of Eden, continued into the 1980s before closing.

In 1994, David and Judy Robinson bought one of those dead drive-ins after it had been closed “for 10 or 15 years” and refurbished it. The guy who runs their unofficial web site says that what they bought had been the Leaksville, which matches the number of cars it can hold. (The old Eden was almost 100 cars smaller.) So the Leaksville, which had been in Leaksville but was now in Eden, was reopened as the Eden.

The Robinsons are unusually foresighted. Not only did they save money to buy digital projectors for all of their theaters, they also bought a backup projector for each. I’ve been reading enough stories this year of drive-ins that had a glitch in their projector and had to shut down for a weekend. That should never happen at the Eden. “It’s going to be a constant investment, but that’s just part of the operating costs,” Eden manager Tim Robertson, their son, told the Greensboro News & Record. “It’s just part of staying in business.”

David Robinson passed away this January, but the Eden is having another good year. Tim told Business North Carolina last month that he’s thinking of adding deep-fried Oreos to the concession stand menu.

This night, I got a chance to see the blockbuster Thor movie for a third time. It was definitely worth it to find a drive-in still showing movies in November.

The embedded video of the day is a 2012 report from WRAL, Raleigh’s News Leader. There’s also a nice short commercial for the Eden on YouTube.

Miles Today / Total: 128 / 35399 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Thor: Ragnarok / 189

Nearby Restaurant: The El Parral Mexican Restaurant is part of a small regional chain, much like the drive-in. Since I got into town in time for lunch, I ordered one of the lunch specials with a chalupa and an enchilada. Add some chips, salsa, and a margarita and it equals the kind of Mexican food experience I enjoy.

Where I Virtually Stayed: There’s a Hampton Inn in Eden. As with so many of them, there were cookies waiting at check-in and coffee all day. Several restaurants, including the El Parral, are within walking distance. My suite was clean and comfortable and had all the modern amenities. The free breakfast in the morning was the usual fine Hampton standard. It’s all good.

Only in Eden: On August 19, 2017, Eden hosted the Touch-a-Truck event. It promised that for three hours, the “whole family will enjoy getting up close and personal with huge trucks and construction equipment in a friendly, safe environment. Fire engines, big rigs, bulldozers and more will all be there for you to touch, climb, play and learn about how they do all the amazing things they do.” If I come back next year, can I really play on the bulldozer?

Next stop: Badin Road Drive-In Theater, Albemarle NC.