Wall Drug & the Corn Palace
Aug 15, 2013Public
Photo: After enjoying the Black Hills, time for the long slog across South Dakota. What's that sign I see?
Photo: There's another sign for a drug store? What's that, the kids are thirsty? Maybe we can get some ice water or something.
Photo: Wall's a pretty small town (pop 843), so it seems silly to get off the freeway for a drug store, doesn't it?
Photo: Wall Drug: Of course I knew about it and it was definitely on my itinerary!!
Photo: When I was younger and we travelled across country, I thought Mom's idea visiting a drug store was a silly. I'm guessing Grant has those same thoughts.
Photo: Look, Mom and Dad, here I am with my family! Mt Rushmore was nice, but there was no way I was skipping this.
Photo: What the heck is Wall Drug? I think travel essayist Bill Bryson said it best, "It's an awful place, one of the world's worst tourist traps, but I loved it and I won't have a word said against it."
Photo: They're reading the story of pharmacist Ted Husted, who opened a drug store in tiny Wall, South Dakota in 1931.
Photo: Business was slow and his father-in-law bluntly told him "You know, Wall is just about as God-forsaken as you can get." But Mount Rushmore was opening soon, and lots of travelers were passing through to get to the Black Hills.
Photo: His wife Dorothy had an idea: Give away free ice water! So he put up signs along the highway advertising free ice water at Wall Drug. People came in droves.
Photo: Soon, the signs were all along the highway, often counting down how many miles to Wall Drug. The ubiquitous signs made it famous, and small drug store grew into... well, you'll see.
Photo: But first some breakfast. We got here early before the crowds. You read that right: we beat the crowds to a drug store.
Photo: Their famous homemade donuts with the iconic free ice water. It didn't seem that thrilling getting my water from a typical soda dispenser, though. Come on guys, make it special!
Photo: You can still get coffee for a nickel. The dining room was a Western art gallery.
Photo: For certain values of the word "art"
Photo: Breakfast finished, let's look around the 76,000 square-foot mall
Photo: You may have already surmised this isn't a Walgreens or Longs.
Photo: Tacky souvenirs aplenty!
Photo: Almost all the workers were foreign from Europe and South America. I wonder if they were pharmacology students thinking they were getting an internship?
Photo: The famous Jackalope, half jackrabbit, half antelope. Anya liked these.
Photo: They sure cram a lot stuff in here.
Photo: Lots of photo ops
Photo: I wonder when Bill Husted thought "What if I add all sorts of kitsch to my successful drug store?"