For businesses located in the most inhospitable terrain or where weather is often an issue, it’s important to find a unique reason to visit, and the best – like Wall Drug – do it to perfection. A good gimmick is the original social media – you tell your friend, he tells his friend, and sooner or later you end up with 50,000 silver dollars covering the walls of your bar. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Just over the Idaho border in Montana sits a tiny little rest stop run by the family of Gerry and Marie Lincoln. In 1952, Grandma Marie began collecting and displaying silver dollars. The regulars and locals started adding to the collection and soon, they had over 1,400 dollars embedded in the bar alone. As word spread, tourists began contributing. Quickly, the tiny lodge bar along Interstate 90 became known as the “World Famous $10,000 Silver Dollar Bar.”
But today the location is known as the $50,000 Silver Dollar Bar, and you can now simply hand over a dollar bill and you receive a commemorative postcard with your “number,” and your name will appear next to your coin when it is finally displayed. As of our visit, there were more than $63,000 worth of silver dollars along the walls, and the bartender (a barely-legal fourth generation Lincoln) explained that they were a few months behind on getting the new boards created.
If you’re ever in the region, stop by for a beer and ask where you might find our silver dollars displayed – they’ll point them out for you.