El Rancho Drive-In Site, Midland, TX.

By Chad Hauris, 12/19/04, Updated 8/2/05

Retro Electronics Home Page

In our quest for drive-in information and a possible site for a new drive-in, we have been doing a lot of research recently.
(Update: 8/2/05: At this time we did not know of the plans for the new Big Sky Drive-In).
We had found a website put together by Jim Pierce that shows drive-in sites in Texas based on topographical maps and aerial photos. There were 4 drive-in sites in Midland: The Texan, at Hwy. 80 and loop 250; the Chief, on Andrews Hwy. between Midland and Golf Course streets; the Fiesta, near Midland Air Park, and another one that was on south Rankin Hwy. Based on research of theatres at Cinematour.com, this drive-in was called the El Rancho. This was confirmed by personal interviews with long-time Midland residents. According to most people’s recollections, the El Rancho closed sometime in the 60’s.
Here is a link to the Topographical Map from 1974 which shows the location of the El Rancho. Here is an
Aerial Photo from 1996 which shows the drive-in ramps still extant.

We thought we had seen something that looked like a drive-in screen framework out this way, so we decided to drive out for a closer look.

Here is a picture of the screen framework: You can still see a bit of cross-bracing material for the screen over on the leftmost pole.

A view of the screen from a distance.

 

Here I am standing in front of the screen tower. I am holding a drive-in speaker transformer we found at the site.

 

At the rear of the site we found the remains of the concession/projection building. This front area appears to have been the concession stand. The site in 2004 appears to have been demolished, but there is a lot left that you can make out what it was.

Another view of the foundation.

 

Click for next page of story including projection booth and artifacts.

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