|City/Town: • El Reno|
|Location Class: • Theater|
|Built: • ~1948 | Abandoned: • ~1988|
|Status: • Abandoned|
|Photojournalist: • Michael Schwarz • Emily Cowan|
The unfortunately named Squaw Drive-In Theater is located on Historic Route 66. The word is used as a slur towards indigenous people, why this name was chosen as the name is unknown but nevertheless unfortunate. Presumably built around 1948, it received a remodel in 1950 after owner Walter B. Shuttee had hired contractors to construct a new concrete block screen. This “indestructible” screen was to replace the last one after it was damaged in a wind and hail storm, the grand re-opening was on July 4, 1950. Throughout the end of the 50s and 60s, the theater was operated by Video Independent Theaters Inc. and had a car capacity of 200-300.
The year 1953 held a few unfortunate events for the theater including a fire and a break-in. On May 13, 1953, at about 11:30 p.m. when a magazine laying on top of a projector caught fire but thankfully an automatic safety system in place extinguished the fire before officials got there. The damage to the projector and the room was little. On August 31, 1953, A rather unusual theft occurred on the property when the burglar made off with fifty cold hot dogs and a tub of ice cream. It’s unsure if the culprit was ever caught or not.
The dying entertainment of drive-in movies hit around the 80s and 90s, the last listed owner was a gentleman by the name of “Martin” from 1985-1988. By 1995 the grounds were referred to as the “Old Squaw Drive-In” insinuating that it closed in the late 80s. The grounds remained empty for many years until the revitalization interests took over Route 66. A Tulsa-based artist named Rick Sinnett designed the ‘Guardian of the Mother Road Mural’ on the backside of the old drive-in theater like multiple other . It depicts a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, the state bird and brought in tourist attention and photography enthusiasts from all over the state.
Gallery Below for Squaw Drive-In
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