Canal Drive-In

3900 W. Tucumcari Boulevard,
Tucumcari, NM 88401

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MichaelKilgore on October 13, 2021 at 10:11 am

Thanks to the amazing help of the New Mexico State Library, I now know that the Canal held its Grand Opening on Friday, April 20, 1951. Its first movie was “Kansas Raiders” starring Audie Murphy.

Based on previous MPH and Boxoffice notes, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Canal really had a soft open on Easter Sunday, March 25, but I haven’t found anything to prove that theory one way or the other.

MichaelKilgore on October 12, 2021 at 1:41 pm

Motion Picture Herald, April 7, 1951: “Milas Hurley has opened his 550-car, $125,000 Canal drive-in, Tucumcari, N. M.”

MichaelKilgore on April 20, 2020 at 11:11 am

Boxoffice, Sept. 23, 1950: “TUCUMCARI, N. M. – This city’s second drive-in will be completed in time for an early spring opening, according to Milas Hurley, owner oft he Princess and Odeon theatres here. The outdoor house, to be named the Canal, will cost more than $100,000 and will accommodate 500 cars. A combination indoor-outdoor theatre will be built at the drive-in with the addition of an auditorium seating 200 persons and constructed to provide filmgoers with comfort in case of stormy or cold weather. Ground for the theatre has been broken. The project is located on Highway 66.”

Boxoffice, March 10, 1951: “Milas Hurley, owner of theatres in Tucumcari, N. M., is putting the finishing touches on his Canal Drive-In there. It will open with an Easter sunrise service. The drive-in is a de luxe 550-car situation and cost about $125,000. A feature is the new five-room bungalow built in the back of the drive-in for the manager. A stone wall surrounds the area.”

Boxoffice followed up on May 5, 1951 to say that Hurley had unveiled the Canal “under construction since last October.”

MichaelKilgore on April 3, 2019 at 11:29 am

Motion Picture Almanac drive-in list mentions:

  • 1951-66: capacity 400 and 250 seats, owner Miles Hurley
  • 1969-76: capacity 400 and 250 seats
  • 1977-79: capacity 400, owner Commonwealt (although the circuit entries for Commonwealth did not include any Tucumcari drive-ins)
  • 1980: off the list
Kenmore on January 16, 2019 at 3:23 pm

There is a canal that runs right by where the drive-in stood, so yes.

davidcoppock on January 15, 2019 at 10:29 am

Was there a canal there?

Kenmore on January 15, 2019 at 8:39 am

A closer address is 3900 US-54, Tucumcari, NM

A 1967 aerial photo shows the drive-in intact and possible open. It also appears on a 1971 topo map.

An abandoned Shell Gas Station sits on the property with no trace of the drive-in remaining.