In the course of his travels, Terry stumbled upon the Stardust 17 Drive-In on the west side of Grafton. The Stardust held 300 cars and hosted movie showings for decades. According to one online account, the Stardust 17’s screen blew down in a windstorm in October of 1991. There were some initial discussions about getting the drive-in going again, but cost put the brakes on a recovery. When we visited in 2011, the theater had been idle for years.
When we visited in 2011, we found the place a shadow of its former self. All of the window speakers were gone. The concession stand’s roof was caving in, and the ticket booth had deteriorated significantly.
The marquee out front is from the Strand Twin Theater in Grafton.
The Lake Park Drive-In in Williston, which was the last operating Drive-In in the state, is now closed, leaving North Dakota with no more operating drive-ins.
Update: we’re told the remains of the screen were taken down a couple years ago. The Stardust 17 is no more.
A couple years later, we visited another vacant drive-in theater, the Pineview Drive-In in Nebraska.
I’m old enough the remember the waning days of the drive-in era, and although there are next generation drive-in theater operators making a go of it lately, the magic of the drive-in is not likely to be recaptured. It would be great to live it all again… to smell the hot dogs and popcorn on the breeze of a hot summer night, swatting mosquitoes and playing on the playground so Mom and Dad could smooch in the car…
Read more about the Stardust 17 and other Drive-In movie theaters here.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy