Drive-In movie theaters began as uniquely American phenomenon, especially in the years that followed World War II. The American car culture dominated the landscape of post-war prosperity.
Drive-in theaters began to be a part of the lay of the land, especially in areas with available open space. Many have since closed as entertainment media has exploded in different directions.
The Super 322 Drive-in opened on May 26, 1950, in Bradford Township, along Route 322, then commonly called the Lakes to Sea Highway, as it connected the Lake Erie region with the southern New Jersey coast.
It was a two-lane marvel for its time, but it has been far overshadowed by the modern interstate highway system. The coming of Interstate 80 to Clearfield County, during the 1960’s, made Route 322 far less traveled.
Drive-in theaters offered a convenient way for families to take in a movie. Parents could arrive with their kids already in their pajamas and ready for bed after arriving home.
These theaters were also great teen hang outs. Conjured images of dating couples and carloads of boisterous teenagers became ingrained as part of the car culture and baby boomer generation.
The photos show the steel scaffolding beams, erector cranes and workers putting together the structure that would hold the giant screen in place. The small wooden structure was the original ticket booth.
After changing hands several times, the Super 322 is now owned and operated by Bill and Barb Frankhouser. The grounds can accommodate 650 cars. The sound system has been greatly upgraded and a modern digital projector shows movies more clearly than ever.
An original pink neon sign has been restored and adds to the 1950’s original décor. The theater also hosts an annual car show.
The Super 322 means great entertainment and is a proud part of Clearfield County history, so much so that the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, in 2001, added it to the National Register of Historic Places.