Tri-Way sign

Tri-Way Drive-In
Kodak EasyShare Z730

Not long ago I shared some photos of the Skyline Drive-In, on the Michigan Road in Shelbyville, Indiana. It’s not the only drive-in on the road, however. The Tri-Way is about 150 miles north on the road, in Plymouth. It’s been operating since 1953. It’s a four-screen outdoor theater — another screen was added since I made this photograph!

I haven’t been by here in a long time, but as I remember it, they leave the sign lit most of the time in season.

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20 responses to “single frame: Tri-Way Drive-In”

  1. P Avatar

    I don’t see a single neon tube that’s broken or out! That’s fantastic, and a rarity! Kudos to them for keeping it properly maintained. Wall-E and The Dark Knight were both excellent movies. Have you ever stopped and enjoyed a show at this drive-in?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I have not. When I grew up, there was a drive-in just minutes from our home and we went to it a few times. It’s long gone now. I’ll add a comment below with a video I took of this sign in action!

  2. brandib1977 Avatar

    Stunning sign! I’m pleased to see that drive in theaters are making a comeback. Hopefully business will boom for these folks and their beautiful sign.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m under the impression that they’re doing great!

      1. brandib1977 Avatar

        I love to see small business succeed. :)

  3. Clare Hennessey Avatar
    Clare Hennessey

    Tack sharp Jim, beautiful image.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks! My old Kodak digicam really loved colors like these.

  4. Khürt Williams Avatar

    Jim, New Jersey has 2 million more residents than Indiana but exactly one drive-in; the Delsea Drive-In Theatre in Vineland about 90 minutes south. I took the kids there several years ago.

    Google Maps shows 18 drive-ins spread across Indiana. I wonder why Indiana has so many drive-in theatres?

    Did you notice you gave distance in miles and I gave it in minutes? Miles and kilometres are mostly meaningless metrics in heavily heavily populated states like New Jersey.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I have to assume population density plays a role. Out here in Indiana we have the wide open spaces for ventures like these.

      In Indiana’s cities we talk about minutes rather than miles. But in the country miles and minutes are pretty much the same.

      I’ve driven in New Jersey. I have a friend who grew up in Edison and has lived in Hoboken for 30 years. It’s quite a different driving experience, even outside the highly populated areas, than here in Indiana. Our roads tend to be laid out in grid patterns. In most Indiana counties the rural roads are numbered, like N 300 W, which means a road 3 miles west of the county north-south centerline, north of the east-west centerline. Makes it easy to get from place to place in the county without knowing the way exactly.

      1. Khürt Williams Avatar

        Interesting, Jim.

        The northeast states are older and I assume most of the roads were built haphazardly to connect towns and cities back when the USA was just 13 states. And since you’ve visited New Jersey, I assumed you experienced the nightmare of our work commutes.

  5. Jim Grey Avatar

    Just for fun: here’s this sign in action:

    1. P Avatar


  6. tbm3fan Avatar

    Here in the Northern California Bay Area I do the same. My office is only 15 miles away so I say 15 miles as I can control my time. Yet when I go to nursing homes where one is requested to be there by this set time like 10:30 am things vary wildly. SE to the San Joaquin Valley 90 miles is 100 minutes. NE past Sacramento 90 miles is 100 minutes. NW towards the Napa Valley 60 miles is 90 minutes. SW towards the Santa Clara Valley (aka Silicon Valley) 60 miles is 110 minutes. Worst of all of them, West to San Francisco, 32 miles is 105 minutes with half trying to navigate the Maze. These times are all 8:45 am starts. Fortunately only four times a month. but with Covid-19, no trips this year.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You could not pay me enough to live out there. The traffic would make me bats.

      Here in the Indianapolis area traffic gets tight at rush hour. The worst of it is getting into Downtown in the morning and, for people who live in Fishers, getting to Fishers in the evening (as there is essentially one way to go and everybody takes it). But even then none of this is truly bad.

      1. tbm3fan Avatar

        I guess that makes you one of the few but given the jobs in tech down in Silicon Valley and San Francisco we draw a lot of people from the Midwest and East Coast. I have always maintained that the tech companies should spread themselves out to those regions, particularly the Midwest, in order to provide jobs and maintain vitality. Yet, no they want to be near Stanford, venture capital, and other tech titans. In that everybody loses. We get a terrible crowding and cost of living due to competition for housing and you get slowly dying cities and towns.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          Northern California is beautiful, and the opportunities for tech workers out there are amazing. But I’ve made a lovely tech career here in the Silicon Cornfield and I have no regrets. Also, when I show colleagues on the west coast a picture of my house and tell them what I paid for it, them collecting their jaws off the floor (because it would cost 8 times as much out there, easy) is super satisfying.

        2. Andy Umbo Avatar
          Andy Umbo


          I’ve met an amazing amount of people from the east and west coast, since I moved back from Washington DC, in Milwaukee, Chicago, and Indianapolis; many from the tech trades (or science, especially in Zionsville). Most all give it a few years, and then head back! I’d move back to DC if I could, but it’s too late for me. What do people get there for putting up with high costs and bad traffic? Lot’s of smart people and a life-time of opportunities that don’t exist in the fly-over. In the midwest, you’ll be lucky to put together the amount of jobs you’ll need to make it to 40 years worth of employment, and you’ll be heading downhill in your 50’s. I know when I lived in Washington DC, I met amazing and fascinating people, every-single-day!

          I was caught in the midwest because I moved back to take care of my Mom after my Dad passed. By the time she passed, I managed to find something in Indianapolis, in a devolving company that only lasted for about 3 years before they fired everyone older than 55! I moved back to Milwaukee for the better mass-trans, lakefront, plentiful art culture, and consumer protection laws that keep landlords from pulling the kind of stuff they did in Indianapolis!

          It’s reasonable (but NOT cheap) to live here; but I spend most days not meeting new people or talking with people that think like I do (a midwest problem for a lot of cities in the fly-over, but not my hometown of Chicago). 95% of the people I met in college left 40 years ago for the coasts, are well established and will never be coming back. One of them even has a retirement place on top of a mountain in Sonoma! They would have never earned the money or had the opportunities in the midwest to do that!

          My brother who is in media as well, always says “Milwaukee is for Milwaukeans”, and you can replace that with Minneapolis, or Indianapolis, or Cleveland for that matter. What he means is that the old rust-belt industries, to some extent, still supports some sort of manufacturing that you might be able to parlay into a few jobs for 40 years; BUT, if you’re in tech, science, or even some sort of high end business, there are more people graduating from the local colleges in these disciplines that jobs available today or even growing! Your only chance is to get out asap!

          Now I’d rather have to ease of living, than talk to interesting people every day.

  7. DennyG Avatar

    The only photo I have of this is from 2011 and lists movies on four screens. Guess I only missed the three screen era by a couple of years.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You did! I should stop to photograph this sign again with all four screens listed.

  8. […] Grey wrote another blog post about another Indian drive-in, the Tri-Way Drive-In. New Jersey has two million more residents than Indiana but exactly one drive-in; the Delsea […]

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