Mt. Zion Drive-In

7540 S. Calhoun Highway,
Mount Zion, WV 26151

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Mt. Zion Drive-In

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Opened in 1952 by John Cook, it was operated as Cook’s Drive-In. It remains open today and is the oldest remaining drive-in located in West Virginia. It has a capacity for 200 cars.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

jwmovies
jwmovies on October 28, 2012 at 10:31 pm

The address for this drive-in is 7540 Mill Stone Rd,

Drive-In 54
Drive-In 54 on June 17, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Here is there website address:

http://www.mtziondrivein.com/

Chris1982
Chris1982 on October 12, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Great History from their website: The Mt. Zion Drive in did not exist until 1950 according to Court House records. Charlie Booker and his Dad built the snackbar in 1947, as a bar. Before then, the area was a big briar patch, including the houses stretching in both directions. According to Charlie, he and his dad cleaned the land off, selling sections of it at a time. For building his bar Charlie said that he and his Dad used as much used materials as they could find. For instance the windows are from a church in Parkesburg, WV. The beam that runs in the center of the snack bar is one continuous piece of wood. He told us that he traveled down the road with it tied to the side of the truck. 18 months after building it, he made his money and closed it down. That’s what he told me. Rumors I heard, said that he was shut down for selling moonshine. The Taxman tried to catch him at it on several attempts; I hear he kept it in plain view behind the door. The Taxman never looked there. The truth may never be known!
At that period of time drive-ins were popping up as fast as they could be built. A friend of Charlie’s, John Cook, (who also owned the indoor that burnt down in Grantsville) talked him into building one, right in the middle of Calhoun; the COOK’S DRIVE IN. Charlie leased the property and building to him for a period of ten years. I have head many wonderful stories about Cook’s drive in. Such as the famous rolls, for which people drove in from neighboring counties to eat, lines that backed up traffic. Cook would direct traffic and help park patrons at the drive in. He also welcomed the moviegoers over the speakers right before the movie started. Famous musicians such as Dolly Parton, and Scruggs and Flatts have performed at the drive in.
When the filmmakers changed the format, as to how the films were to be viewed flat or Cinemascope, better known as “Wide screen”. The screen had to be widened. When you look at it you can see the changes that were made. The original brick screen and then the “wings” that were added on top of it in later years. And then there were changes made to the buildings. The projection room went from the old carbon projectors, which took 2 projectors, carbon arcs, and a man to tend to them (a person had to sit with the projectors to keep the film going and to make sure the film didn’t lag and melt), to the platter system, using one projector and a bulb (no man needed to watch it). The Grounds have changed only slightly the growth of the pine trees, adding of the long gray fence, for the attempt of keeping out sneak-ins. Over the years the business has changed hands, from John Cook, Jiggs Rose, Morris Rose, Tom Johnson, and then to the current owners, in 1979, Marshall and Virginia Bever. The Bever’s have an history, a long line of drive-in owners/operators, starting with Virginia’s grandmother and Father; Bida and James Hanna(who owned the Craigsville drive-in, in Nicholas Co., WV). 4 generations of drive-iners (currently there is a 5th, but they are just little young). The Bever’s have made a few changes of their own, approx. 1998 they installed radio sound FM 91.5 , but still have and use the nostalgic speakers. They also added to the back of the projection room.
Today the struggle is with digital projectors. The film industry is moving away from traditional film and small private owned theaters are the ones who are taking the hit. Especially drives as the upgrade of equipment for them can cost upwards of $80,000. The hopes of getting digital equipment is high, but the true outlook is bleak. The Mt. Zion Drive entered several grant opportunities provided by Honda’s Project Drive in, Chase Mission Main Street Grants, and FedEx Small Business Grant. Let’s hope they come through with a solution so the Mount Zion can remain open.

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