Video: NC’s Hound’s won’t reopen

A very short WCNC news video

Procrastination. I’ve been busy the past couple of weeks putting Drive-Ins of New Mexico to bed. After I get a proof copy next week and count the mistakes, the book should be available for sale by the end of the month.

But I have to admit that I wasn’t in a hurry to relay this news. Preston Brown, the owner of Hound’s Drive-In in Kings Mountain NC, announced on Facebook a couple of weeks ago that he would not reopen this year. The Shelby Star reported that Brown sold the site to Albemarle Corp., a Charlotte-based chemical company, and that it may become a lithium mine.

The closure was widely reported, such as on WCNC, Charlotte’s News Leader, but I had to turn to its brief YouTube summary to find a video to embed.

In his post, Brown wrote that “We started this journey together with a vision of a campground and drive-in movie theater that ultimately turned into the #1 highest-grossing drive-in theater with the largest screens in the nation. We broke attendance records not only with other drive-ins, but walk-in theaters also.”

If you want to reflect on happier times, go back to my virtual visit there in November 2017, barely a year after Hound’s opened. Back then, they were just building a second screen to handle the enthusiastic crowds. It’s a shame to see all that hard work sunk into a mine.

Video: Check out the Chama drive-in

Roger Hogan’s drone view of the Chama Drive-In from 2018

Sometimes I don’t need a good excuse to share a video. But I’ve got one anyway. I’m finishing my next book, Drive-Ins of New Mexico, which is how I found out about the one in little Chama there.

Back in 1996, Albuquerque Journal writer Toby Smith had a story about the state’s old drive-ins. He included a sidebar where he mentioned most of them. “One drive-in, in Chama,” he wrote, “called itself Kelly’s, after the resident who owned it”. I was amazed, because that drive-in never showed up on any of the industry lists.

Digging into my reference works, I found out that Michael Kelly returned from serving in World War II and soon began running the indoor Rainbow Theatre in Chama. A few years later (this video says 1960), he built a small drive-in south of town. I only have access to scattered local newspapers, but I know that the Rainbow Drive-In advertised in June 1968. When Kelly died in 1978, Boxoffice remembered him as the operator of the Rainbow Theatre and the Chama Drive-In. So I’m not sure what to call this drive-in.

The story got better. A few years ago, a local group called Elevate Chama started hosting movies and other events on the old drive-in grounds. If they run enough of them, I ought to add the Chama drive-in to the Carload active list. Hmmm.

Anyway, I also found this drone’s-eye view of Chama’s drive-in, posted five years ago on YouTube by Roger Hogan, aka Wacky Roger. It’s been too long since I posted a good drone video, so here you go. I’ll let you know when the book is available.

Video: WV’s Sunset Ellis to reopen in 2023

After its original owners closed the adjoining restaurant, it looked like the Sunset Drive-In in Shinnston WV was going to stay dark. The outlook was bad enough that I had pulled the Sunset (or is it the Sunset Ellis?) off the Carload active drive-in list. But it goes back to one of my favorite rules: How can you tell when a drive-in has permanently closed? It’s not when it ends its season; it’s when it fails to open the following spring.

Here’s a great example of that rule in action. Rocky Morgan has stepped in to buy the historic Sunset Ellis Restaurant and its drive-in. The restaurant reopens on Feb. 16, and Morgan said he’ll reopen the Sunset Drive-In this summer. This great news came this week from WDTV, Weston WV’s News Leader, which provided a nice video that I can’t embed here.

In place of that video, I’ve added another video from last summer when the Sunset looked like it would close for good. That video came from WBOY, Clarksburg WV’s News Leader. So maybe you could watch that one first, as the “before” story, then click over to WDTV for the “after”. That way, you’ll be sure to catch the happy ending.