TeePee Gets Renovated, May Reopen

Drive-in screen framed by shrubbery
The old TeePee screen was still intact, though surrounded by fast-growing plant life, when I took this photo in May 2019.

The venerable TeePee Drive-In, just west of Sapulpa OK, has been purchased by a group headed by a local entrepreneur. Although it’s uncertain when or whether it will reopen, tractors and excavators have already cleared the overgrown brush from the viewing field, and why would you do something like that if you weren’t planning on showing movies?

I didn’t want to bury the lede, but if you’ve noticed that Carload has been quiet lately, it’s been because I’ve had my head down researching my next book, the expanded second edition of Drive-Ins of Route 66. It’ll have more photos, more drive-ins, more stories, and now it’ll have a note about the TeePee, which will have reopened (I’m guessing) when the book comes out around August 2021. (While they last, you can still buy the soon-to-be-rare first edition, signed by me, on eBay.)

The Sapulpa Times reported that the Kante Group, backed by Joni Rogers-Kante, closed on the TeePee property last week. As shown by the photos in that article, heavy machinery got right to work cleaning out a few year’s worth of nature’s continuing attempts to reclaim the site. The article quoted “unnamed sources” who said that they expect the TeePee to be operating again this summer.

Left unreported was how TeePee visitors would access the drive-in. It sits on Ozark Trail Road, which is so old that it predates US Highway 66. As I saw when I visited in 2019, the adjacent Rock Creek Bridge on former Route 66 is closed, so cars from Sapulpa would have to drive three miles up Dewey Avenue, then double back another three and a half miles along the narrow, twisting, historic Ozark Trail. A nearby VFW Hall has a parking lot with entrances on both Dewey and Ozark Trail; maybe the TeePee could use that as an access road short cut?

Here’s hoping that the Kante Group can get the TeePee up and running again, especially if they can beat the deadline to get included in my next book.

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