You’ll see the signs for Wall Drug long before you get there. Hundreds of signs, for hundreds of miles in either direction of Wall, South Dakota, on Interstate 90.
The story goes like this: in 1936, Wall Drug was a struggling small-town drug store, owned by Ted Hustead and his wife, Dorothy. Dorothy came up with the idea of attracting travelers from the highway by putting up signs advertising free ice water. Ted went out and put up the signs, and the customers began arriving immediately. And thus was born roadside advertising.
Tourists stop in Wall, home to some eight hundred people, because it’s the closest town to Badlands National Park, and most of them end up at the drug store, which is still owned by the Hustead family, but isn’t just a drug store any more. There are displays, statues, play areas for the kids, games, souvenirs, a chapel, a café, and homemade fudge. There is a fountain to run through, a dinosaur that roars, and there are jackalopes.
Wall Drug occupies a large part of Wall’s main street. Free ice water is still available.