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Wind takes out historic Idaho drive-in movie screen

The 70-foot-tall screen was the original, from when the drive-in was built in the 1950s.

DRIGGS, Idaho — Fierce winds that blew across eastern Idaho Monday night have claimed an icon: the movie screen at the Spud Drive-In Theatre.

Katie Mumm, manager of the Spud, said the screen, which was about 70 feet tall, blew over at "around 8 or 9."

"It was just super windy, and the screen blew over. It initially blew something off of our chimney on our fireplace, and so my husband peeked out the door to check the screen and he saw that it was blown over," Mumm said.

The screen went up when the Spud Drive-In was built between 1953 and 1955.

"Yeah, it's the original screen. It's so awesome. It's so awesome that it lasted so long. It's so awesome that they built it to last that long, and I think it's just, in the end, it's just old," Mumm said, adding that the screen's tower has been reinforced "a few times in different ways" over its nearly 70-year history.

The theater, located along Highway 33 between Driggs and Victor, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. Documentation for the register describes the Spud as an "excellent and intact example of an outdoor automobile-oriented venue for the display of motion pictures." 

Sections were added to the screen tower in 1955 to widen the screen so it could accommodate films made in Cinemascope. A large billboard on the back of the screen tower looks like an Idaho license plate.

"It brings our community together. I mean, people come and it's a place where people are happy and they can relax and kids are welcome and dogs are welcome and it's just a place that people feel good," Mumm said.

Movies are shown at The Spud during the warmer months, and Mumm said that will continue if plans to rebuild come together.

"We have a really big goal. We'd really like to open June 1 still, so we're shouting out. We're sending out for help," Mumm said. "Our insurance will cover the financial side of it, but we need someone who can work on it ASAP."

Mumm also said that because of community support over the years, the sight of the wrecked wood and metal lying on the ground isn't necessarily heartbreaking.

"I feel grateful. I feel really grateful for the time that it served us and for the people who set it up," she said. "I'm grateful that we've had it and that's built such a legend so that we can do our best to rebuild it."

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