Dubuque Drive-In

17481 S. John Deere Road,
Dubuque, IA 52001

750 cars

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Tri-State Theaters

Nearby Theaters

Dubuque Drive-In exterior

The Dubuque Drive-In opened in July 1949. Due to its position on a steep slope, it had two terraces above the main field. The main field could hold 500 cars, and the terraces could hold 50 cars on the lower and 200 cars on the upper terrace.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on September 5, 2010 at 12:40 pm


rivest266 on July 22, 2012 at 4:04 pm

1949 grand opening ad posted here.

rivest266 on July 22, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Also the 1954 aerial has been uploaded here. It was on John Deere Road.

jwmovies on September 27, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Approx. address for this drive-in was 17481 South John Deere Road. Diesel Dr. runs through where the theatre stood. The entrance to that street is the same as drive-in entrance.

MEMPHISMO on July 2, 2016 at 12:51 pm

The screen tower of this drive-in theater was my summer home when I was a kid in the mid fifties. My Dad managed the theater and our family lived in an apartment inside the screen tower. You can see the windows in the picture. The two darker windows on the right were the office and the rest were our apartment. We had no toilet in the apartment however there were several toilets available in the concession stand. Of course there were no windows on the back side of the apartment, just a black door. The black door was almost invisible because the bottom of the screen tower was painted black.

I had two younger brothers and lots of friends from the trailer court next door. We would all gather each night on the playground before the movie started. Once the movie started many of us would climb into the disabled car Dad had parked on the third row to watch the movie. Who else had their own car at the drive-in when they were only nine years old? The floor of the car was covered with spilled popcorn which we of course got for free.

davidcoppock on May 30, 2018 at 3:07 am

Is it possibly the only drive-in in the World to have terraces?

davidcoppock on May 30, 2018 at 3:20 am

The site is now Dubuque Diesel Injection Services.

MichaelKilgore on March 19, 2019 at 2:08 pm

The Dubuque was destroyed by a fire in the early morning of March 28, 1961, according to an April 17 Boxoffice note. Manager Harley Moore said it was insured, but the “50x80-foot screen” and everything but the concession / projection stand was gone.

MichaelKilgore on June 14, 2019 at 11:10 am

From the Sept. 3, 1949 issue of BoxOffice:

DUBUQUE, IOWA – The Dubuque Drive-In, just opened here, claims it will be the first open-air theatre to contain a balcony. The topography of the land at the theatre, on John Deere road north of Highway 52, makes it possible to have a “balcony,” according to Manager Robert Shelton. The theatre has space for more than 600 cars. Shelton began his career in Council Bluffs and later went to Des Moines and Sioux City. John Rigdon of Dubuque is assistant manager of the theatre.

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