Basin Drive In

SR 17 and I-90,
Moses Lake, WA 98837

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Basin Drive In

The collection of Polk’s Directories at the Moses Lake public library is incomplete but the Basin Drive-In first is listed in the 1950 edition, although it opened in 1952. It was at the intersection of Cross State Highway 10 (now Interstate 90) and State Route 17. It was operated by John Lee. It was closed by 1976. No trace remains.

Contributed by Larry Price

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

MichaelKilgore on December 1, 2021 at 8:32 pm

Boxoffice, Oct. 7, 1950: “Moses Lake, Wash. - John Lee of Ephrata, owner of Columbia Basin Theatres, … plans to acquire property for a drive-in to be opened in this area next spring … Lee said equipment for the drive-in has been ordered and is expected to be delivered in November. He said plans call for a capacity of 400 cars. THe ozoner will be located on the Moses Lake-Ephrata highway.”

Boxoffice, May 31, 1952: “Moses Lake, Wash. - The first drive-in for the Columbia basin was to be opened by late May, owner John Lee of Ephrata said … The Moses Lake situation is on the east side of town, just south of the new auto racetrack.”

Columbia Basin Herald, July 10, 1952 (quoted in the Oct. 4, 2014 Crescent Bar Chronicle): “The Columbia Basin’s first drive-in theater will open this weekend just off U.S. 10 near Moses Lake’s east city limits, according to William Daugaard, who will manage it. The theater is set up on an eight-acre tract cleared to accommodate 300 cars now and 600 when business warrants it, Daugaard said. The screen is 40 by 60 feet. The location is about three miles from the center of town. A double feature is booked for Friday and Saturday nights, but the theater may not be opened until Sunday, when the show will feature Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in "The Invisible Man” and a Roy Rogers western, the manager said. The theater will operate seven nights a week. The drive-in is owned by Columbia Basin Theaters, operated by John Lee of Ephrata, who also has the two regular movie houses in Moses Lake."

Boxoffice, Aug. 2, 1952: “Moses Lake, Wash. - John Lee opened his new airer, the Basin Drive-In, here Thursday (24). With a capacity of 285 cars, the theatre was equipped by Modern Theatre Supply of Seattle”

Spokane Chronicle, April 5, 1956: “Moses Lake, Wash., April 5 - Columbia Basin Theaters has been sold to Texan Peter Barnes, owner John Lee of Ephrata announced this week. The chain of theaters include 15 movie houses in Grant and Adams counties. Lee announced that he, however, wil retain ownership of the theater buildings. Included in the transation were the Lake and Ritz theaters and Basin Drive-In in Moses Lake; Lee and Marjo theaters and Park In Drive-In in Ephrata; Lake theater in Othello, and Warden theater in Warden.”

The 1953-56 Theatre Catalogs listed the Basin with a capacity of 284 cars, owner John Lee.

The 1953-66 editions of Motion Picture Almanac included the Basin of Moses Lake, capacity 258 cars, owner John Lee Circuit. A “Basin-258” entry continued while the MPA was on semi-autopilot during 1967-76, but when the MPA rebooted its drive-in list in 1977, the Basin was gone. My guess is that the 258 number was a typo of the accurate 285, and it stuck.

MichaelKilgore on December 1, 2021 at 8:37 pm

To summarize, the Basin opened on Thursday, July 24, 1952. Because that was after its planned opener, we don’t yet know what movies it showed that night. Its capacity was very likely 285 cars. The Basin closed by 1976, probably years earlier.

Seattleprojectionist on January 22, 2022 at 8:08 pm

The Seattle Public Library has a more complete collection of Polk’s Directories. In 1957, Larry Goedde is listed as manager. The 1958 edition is missing, the 1959 has no listing for the Basin nor does any later edition.

Jamey_monroe45 on July 11, 2023 at 1:35 am

Now Moses Lake Auto Salvage @ 3645 E Broadway Ave, Moses Lake, WA 98837.

Please update.

Seattleprojectionist on July 11, 2023 at 6:18 am

Jamey: I beg to differ, I live in this area. The Basin Drive In was at the intersection of what is now I-90 and State Highway 17. Nowhere near East Broadway. I posted a photo of it (from State Department of Transportation. There are also pictures of it at the I-90/SR17 in the Grant County Historical Society archives.

kennerado on July 11, 2023 at 7:22 pm

Yep, Seattleprojectionist is correct, its now Ernie’s Fuel Stop which is mostly a parking lot for trucks.

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