PARSONS, Kan. -- An unlikely pilgrimage was under way this month to Dwayne's Photo, a small family business that through luck and persistence became the last processor in the world of Kodachrome, the first successful and still the most beloved color film.
That celebrated 75-year run from mainstream to niche photography ended this week when the last processing machine was shut down. It is to be sold for scrap.
In the last weeks, dozens of visitors and thousands of overnight packages have raced here.
They transformed this small Kansas prairie city not far from the Oklahoma border for a brief time into a center of nostalgia for the days when photographs appeared not on a computer screen or in a pack of flimsy prints from the local drugstore but in the warm glow of a projector pulling an image from a carousel of vivid slides.
In the span of minutes this week, two such visitors arrived. The first was a railroad worker who had driven from Arkansas to pick up 1,580 rolls of film that he had just paid $15,798 to develop.
The second was an artist who had driven directly here after flying from London to Wichita, on her first trip to the United States, to turn in three rolls of film and shoot five more before the processing deadline.
At the peak, about 25 labs worldwide processed Kodachrome, but the last Kodak-run facility in the United States closed several years ago, then the one in Japan, and then the one in Switzerland. Since then, all that was left was Dwayne's Photo. Last year, Kodak stopped producing the chemicals needed to develop the film, providing the business with enough to continue processing through the end of 2010.
And last week, right on schedule, the lab opened up the last canister of blue dye.
The last frame on the last roll of the film was a picture of all the employees standing in front of Dwayne's wearing shirts with the epitaph: "The best slide and movie film in history is now officially retired. Kodachrome: 1935-2010."37.34049 -95.25838 ERROR: Template storyimage.ldo not found in theme default for section business!
An unlikely pilgrimage was under way this month to Dwayne's Photo, a small family business that through luck and persistence became the last processor in the world of Kodachrome, the first successful and still the most beloved color film.