How to research your local drive-in theater!
Here's a little advice on how to find out about your local drive-in theater.
Library: Your local library is an excellent resource for finding information on drive-ins in your area. Most libraries have rolls of microfilm of old newspapers on hand. Look for the advertisements for the movies that were playing at that time. For the best of luck for finding drive-ins is to start with newspapers from the mid to late 1960's. Most were still open at that time and I doubt many were closed by then. Of course you want to check the summer papers, not the winter ones. Most drive-ins were closed in the winter and not many are actually open that time of year. The biggest advertisements were usually placed on Fridays and Saturdays. By checking a wide range of years throughout the 1970's and 1980's, it is possible to narrow down the year in which the theater may have closed.
Also, talk to the people who work at the library, they may even be able to help with information on where the drive-in was located, when it opened, or when it closed. It never hurts to ask.
Friends: You may have friends or co-workers that may know of, or knew of the existence of the local drive-ins. They may have gone to them in the past and show you where they were. Also, if you have friends who live in different areas, ask them for help in the research. I've received TONS of help from my friends in the creation of this web page.
Web Pages: There are plenty of web pages on the net that are dedicated to Drive-ins. Many list the drive-ins that are still open in your state. Some even list the ones that once operated in your state but have closed. Check my links page for some that are out there.
Books and Magazines: At your local library, there are books that will have information on drive-ins. Also, there are many books available for sale, still in print, dedicated to drive-ins. Check my links page for those as well.
Arial Photography: Some libraries will have photos taken from the air of the cities you are researching. If you look closely at those photographs, you may be able to spot the markings of a drive-in from the air. This will help in locating drive-ins that may no longer exist and show their orientation to the lay of the land.
Maps: Yes, believe it or not, maps can be a big help with your quest. While not labeled on the map, once you find where your local drive in is, you may be able to find it's entrance road on the map. A regular highway map will not help. What you need is something like "The Wisconsin Atlas and Gazetteer" from DeLorme. This type of map shows almost EVERYTHING. I've found that many of the drive-ins that I have listed on this web page, open or not, actually appear on this map.
For some more excellent tips on researching your local drive-in theater, take a look at Arthur Allen's web page!