Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »

Roadside Attractions: Wall Drug, South Dakota

Recently we interviewed Chandler O’Leary of the fantastic illustrated travel blog Drawn the Road Again. We are thrilled to be sharing a series of O’Leary’s illustrations of roadside attractions, along with their place on Atlas Obscura, in a summer series. 

article-imageWall Drug’s 80-foot dinosaur, illustrated by Chandler O’Leary

In terms of roadside oddities, Wall Drug, South Dakota, is the forerunner of them all. As Chandler O’Leary writes in introducing her illustrations of Wall Drug for Drawn the Road Again:

I was born 50 miles west of Wall Drug. True story. I think, therefore, that my undying love of roadside attractions is imprinted on the genetic level. Even if you don’t have this place in your DNA, it’s pretty hard not to be curious about something hawked by a hundred billboards as you drive through the back of beyond.

Starting as a drugstore purchased in 1931 in the town of Wall by Ted Hustead, it was when his wife Dorothy decided to offer free ice water to travelers journeying to the recently completed Mount Rushmore that things took off. Now it’s a cornucopia of curiosities, from the 80-foot dinosaur to the jackalopes in “taxidermy,” and in fiberglass that you can ride. O’Leary makes special mention of “the creepy animatronic Gold Rush puppets” who sing “North! To Alaska,” noting: “Sorry, no sketch of that. I was too scared.”

article-imageJackalope mounts & a painted lady at Wall Drug, illustrated by Chandler O’Leary

article-imageSigns for Wall Drug, illustrated by Chandler O’Leary

article-image
Riding the jackalope at Wall Drug (photograph by Konrad Summers)


Follow more of Chandler O’Leary’s travels through illustrations at Drawn the Road Again. Stay tuned for more illustrated roadside attractions on Atlas Obscura, or revisit Salem Sue.