Saturday, July 25, 2009
When you are traveling in this part of South Dakota, it is almost mandatory that you make a stop at Wall Drug. Started in the small ranch town of Wall, SD in 1931, it had a very poor start in business. The family business got the idea to pull in people from outside the area with small road signs along what passed as main roads in those days.
Jump forward to the 1950’s and my first trip to the west with parents and siblings, where it seemed like we started to see these signs as early as Iowa. They were everywhere and by the time we got to South Dakota it was a must to stop and see this place. They promised free ice water, which was a big deal before auto Ac and lots of fun stuff to do. It in fact was very interesting and I never forgot about Wall Drug.
Jump ahead to the mid 1980’s, as we took our children on their first trip west and we started seeing those signs. We had to stop.
It remains the same today with signs along all routes into Wall. They have managed to back this small town into world attraction. Needless to say it has grown a lot since my first visit there, but the principle remains the same. They now have a large collection of historic photos from the region that would take many hours to look over. There is half a main street of stores selling all the tourist gifts you could want. Ice water is still free and coffee is 5 cents.
It is almost the definition of a tourist trap-with some fun thrown in.