Friday, July 8, 2016

Wall Drug Store

Billboards extolling Wall Drug Store flashed by the windshield of the Dawntreader from the very moment Tim turned our RV onto the entrance ramp of Interstate 90.  "Stop on the way to the Badlands!"  "Free donuts for newlyweds at Wall Drug Store!" "Refreshing free ice water at Wall Drug!"  But the most ubiquitous billboard asks "How many miles to Wall Drug?"

Well, that depends!  Ted Hustead and his wife Dorothy started Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota back in 1931, during the Great Depression.

Lured by the promise of free ice water, customers came almost before Ted finished tacking up the first signs along Highway 16A.  

That motivated Ted to make even more signs.  Even the customers began to suggest funny sayings for the signs.

Fast forward to WWII:  Leonel Jensen, a lifelong friend of the Hustead's, was serving with the Red Cross in Europe. Everywhere he went, he put up signs advertising the distance to Wall Drug.  Soon GIs were writing, asking for more signs, slapping them all over the continent and beyond.

Add caption

Ted himself, while on vacation in England, hung a sign informing commuters on the London Underground that Wall Drug was only 5,160 miles away. If they wrote, he promised to send them information about Wall Drug, the Badlands and South Dakota.

Today the 76,000-square feet drug store, 

gift shops, eateries, 

western art gallery, travelers' chapel, 

and backyard offers free bumper stickers to anyone who asks. 

So, how far is it to Wall Drug?  Well, our campground is only a block away.


  1. Yes there are a lot of 'How Far is it to Walls Drug Store?' but I didn't know about the ones in Europe. I loved all the old photographs throughout the store.

  2. We liked those, too, and wondered how the Husteads were able to amass such a collection. Definitely worth a visit even though it's a tourist trap!