Friday, May 15, 2009

Return Expedition to South Dakota's Wall Drug

My first visit to Wall Drug, in Wall, South Dakota, was on the occasion of a motorcycle trip to that state to attend the famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. So on that very hot day in August of 1990, I had no idea what to expect as we took the exit off I-90 to view what the billboards had been teasing us with for the last several hundred miles. Main Street of the tiny town was completely closed off to automobile traffic, and it was "wall to wall" motorcycles in downtown Wall, South Dakota. Making our way through the hundreds of road-weary bikers, we explored this most unusual "drug store" and took advantage of the free ice water their billboards had been advertising. And of course, we were captivated by the magnitude of souvenirs and memorabilia that covered every square inch of space in the establishment. For this reason, I was looking forward to an opportunity I had for a return visit last week, to Wall, at a time when there were more automobiles in the street than motorcycles. The visit last week had the added benefit of meeting the current owners of Wall Drug, who shared with our group the story of how it was started. Their grandparents, Ted and Dorothy Hustead, along with their father, Bill Hustead, moved to Wall and founded Wall Drug on December 31, 1931. It was the time of "The Great Depression", which was felt even worse in that part of South Dakota because of dust storms, drought, grasshoppers, crop failures and severe winters.

But Dorothy Hustead conceived the idea that many a hot, dusty traveler would welcome a drink of ice water from the Wall Drug well, and the first signs popped up on Highway 16. Suddenly, a sleepy little prairie town became the stopping off place for travelers across South Dakota. The Ice Water Store was born.

The Husteads were people of faith, and had probably read Jesus' words recorded in Mark 9:41 that say "For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward." A survey of the Wall Drug Enterprise of today makes it clear that the Husteads have not lost their reward! Besides a huge shopping emporium, there is a "Traveler's Chapel" that is beautifully furnished, and serves as a reminder of the source of all blessings this family has received. I would definitely recommend a stop at the world-famous Wall Drug. You can read more about the world's largest drug store at or phone 605-279-2175 for hours of operation. Miles of smiles! TriciaPosted by Picasa