Rhea Drive-In

Rhea Drive-In

The Rhea Drive-In Gone But Not Forgotten

Another piece of Rhea County’s history fell to the ground on Thursday May 22, 2008.  The old Rhea Drive-In was torn down to make way for future developments.  The late Ronnie Ray of Dayton was the current owner in 2008. He is shown here on the backhoe knocking down the walls into a burning pile. The large white screen was taken down a few years ago.  Ronnie recounted his teenage days at the drive-in, remembering the small admissions fee, the concessions stand, and the speaker, which hung on the side of your car.

Two of Tennessee’s infamous visited the Rhea Drive-In to promote movies about their life.  In July of 1960, John T. Scopes returned to Dayton for the 35th Anniversary of the Scopes Trial to attend the premiere of Inherit the Wind at the Rhea Drive-In. Inherit the Wind was a fictionalized account of the 1925 Scopes Trial, which resulted in  John T. Scopes’ conviction for teaching of evolution in a local high school science class. And later in the 1970’s, Buford Pusser made an appearance in Dayton to promote Walking Tall, a movie about how he almost lost his life while single-handily cleaning up his small town of crime and corruption. .

Drive-In theaters have become “a gone but not forgotten icon” of our youth for anyone over the age of 40. The friendships and laughter will carry on in those who recollect the good ole days at the old Rhea Drive-In.

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Published byDean

Born and raised in Dayton Tennessee, I have served in various public service positions in the past. I have a great interest in the History of our town. This site is a way for me to share some of the great history of the area.

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