By now you know my story: July 2009, 8000 km road trip, 3 generations, 1 van. Crazy? Yes. Lomographically limited? In no way whatsoever! I took along 10 cameras and 40 rolls of film. We passed through 10 American states and 3 Canadian provinces, and we took a moment to sample the Free Ice Water at the Wall Drug Store...
By now you know my story: July 2009, 8000 km road trip, 3 generations, 1 van. Crazy? Yes. Lomographically limited? In no way whatsoever! I took along 10 cameras and 40 rolls of film. We passed through 10 American states and 3 Canadian provinces, and we took a moment to sample the Free Ice Water at the Wall Drug Store…
Wall Drug is not only a drug store/gift shop/restaurant/gift shop/tourist attraction/gift shop/rest area/gift shop/carnival midway/gift shop, it is much, much more.
Nearly 80 years ago a pharmacist and his wife moved to Wall, South Dakota and tried to make a decent and honest living along with the other two hundred and some residents of this middle of nowhere town. When a nearby tourist attraction (you may have heard of it, it’s called Mount Rushmore) was being carved out of a mountain, the pharmacist’s wife thought she might be able to coax weary travellers to stop in to their dusty town for a glass of cold, cold water. Her simple plan changed the face of Wall (and the South Dakota billboard industry) forever.
As we made our way eastward on the South Dakota Interstate highway we began to see the signs. Billboards, that is. Not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill billboards, but a specific style of billboards. Wall Drug style, that is. Billboards that declare things like, “NEW DINOSAUR – WALL DRUG BACKYARD”, “SHOOTING GALLERY – WALL DRUG”, “Homemade Breakfast Rolls Donuts Fudge & Pie – WALL DRUG”, “FREE COFFEE AND DONUTS FOR VIETNAM VETS”, “WALL DRUG: AS TOLD BY READERS DIGEST”, “FREE COFFE & DONUTS FOR HONEYMOONERS”, and the list goes on. Seriously, there are HUNDREDS of these billboards in South Dakota alone. There was no way we were going to drive past without checking this place out.
The drug store has grown over the decades to include a restaurant, a chapel, a water spray park, a western art museum, and more gift shops than you can shake a stick at. All of this apparently accomplished by gradually taking over an entire city block and attaching all of the buildings together.
There’s a piece of advice painted on one of the yellow and brown signs on the front of the store; a piece of advice that is already a steadfast rule for most of you who will read these few sentences. The sign says “BRING YOUR CAMERA”
Before I leave you to browse my photos I should mention two things: the ice water actually tastes quite awful, and don’t forget to pick up your free bumper sticker!
Did I mention the animatronic singing cowboy quartet?