Photo by picbot on Flickr

Billboards dot the roadside along most American highways today, making it difficult to imagine a time when highway signs not only drew close attention but even created a sensation. The following aerial views of two American tourist traps show the importance of highways in delivering visitors. While Wall Drug began as a small-town pharmacy with a Main Street storefront, South of the Border sprouted as a stop along U.S. Highway 301. Although both attractions built their reputations through shrewd advertising along hundreds of miles of roads, as detailed by historians Troy Henderson and Meeghan Kane in American Tourism: Constructing a National Tradition, the route of Interstate highways helped assure their continuation even as countless other roadside attractions closed after being marooned when the freeways whisked crowds elsewhere. Clearly the hundreds of signs such as the one in the top photo continue to get the job done. Apart from signs, even a cursory glance at a satellite view of Wall, South Dakota, make Wall Drug’s location unmistakable. Just look at where all the cars are parked!

Wall Drug, SD

South of the Border, SC