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Ted Hustead.

Wall Drug founder Ted Hustead dies

South Dakota lost one of its tourism heroes this week. Wall Drug Czar Ted Hustead (1902-1999) died in a Philip, SD, hospital at the age of 96. He and his wife Dorothy started Wall Drug in 1931. Dorothy's idea of the lure of "Free Ice Water" in the Black Hills - Badlands region turned it into a must-see detour off I-90. Dorothy died in 1995.

As Ted expanded the Wall Drug tourist complex in the early years, he also succeeded with an international self-promotion scheme. Signs advertising Wall Drug could be found in Paris, Viet Nam, the North Pole. Every traveler who stopped in Wall was given a free sign to take home.

Ted H., Bill, Ted E., and Rick.

In recent decades, Ted's son Bill took over the management of this sprawling attraction. Today, with Bill in poor health, Ted's grandson Rick has accepted the Wall Drug mantle. The Ice Water Dynasty will continue.

Roadside America declared Wall Drug one of its Seven Wonders (along with vacation magnets like South of the Border and Rock City) . . . not that they needed more publicity than they already had. Each member of the Roadside America team cherishes memories of Wall Drug visits. As kids, we fondly recall piling out of a wood-paneled station wagon and pouring into the string of stores; buying cheap chunks of petrified wood and quartz; fighting with siblings to ride the giant jackalope or the bronco; and pumping coin after coin into the freakish gorilla scene to hear him play "Pop Goes the Weasel" on the piano.

Ted Hustead is survived by two sons, Bill Hustead of Wall and Charles Hustead of Topeka, Kan.; two daughters, Mary Bottum and Catherine Roe, both of Los Angeles; 17 grandchildren; and 22 great-grandchildren.

[January 16, 1999. Thanks to Lori Myrland at the Rapid City Journal and Larry Ellis Reed for the details]

510 Main St., Wall, SD
I-90 exit 110, turn north onto Glenn St., then turn left. Drive two blocks then turn right onto Main St. Two blocks north, on the right.
Daily 6:30 am - 8 pm. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
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