Category: Gas Station

The Old Underwood & Petty Service Station – Strawberry Plains, Tennessee

The Old Underwood & Petty Service Station – Strawberry Plains, Tennessee

One of the stars on my Google Map that was close to where I stayed one night in Tennessee, was the old Underwood & Petty service station in Strawberry Plains. I’m not sure where I first saw a picture of the old station. It may have been something in my Instagram feed. Shunpikers, roadtrippers and backroad ramblers are great sources for this sort of thing. But I suppose the where I saw it is immaterial when the why I saved it is obvious.

But there is the other why. Why would I ride with a purpose to lay eyes on a crumbling old facade? I can’t buy it, fix it, save it. I can’t stop time. What is the purpose of going to see it or any of the other ghost stations I might visit?

That I do not know.

What is it that I’m hoping to see when I peer through their old windows? Some type of magic or a secret; treasure, maybe?

The decrepit old pump standing sentry. It’s pump handle in everlasting salute.

Underwood & Petty

I see you, old girl. You’re still beautiful to me.

On Google Maps

The Old Former Denver-style Texaco of Unionville, NY

The Old Former Denver-style Texaco of Unionville, NY

This little empty station sits in a spot in Unionville, NY that I’ve probably ridden by a hundred times. Up until this past Sunday, I never zeroed in on it or paid it any attention. Well, I finally woke up. Kenny and I stopped so I could peer in the windows.

Aside from the interesting reading material, that “Reducing Plan Candy” was apparently made by the tragically named Ayds appetite suppressant.

According to the roadside architecture oracle, Debra Jane Seltzer, this was once a Texaco. If petroliana is your passion, you’re probably sniffing and thinking “everybody knows that!” Well, I didn’t. But, now I do and I can’t un-know it.

When I try to find information about something I’ve seen on the road I often fall down a rabbit hole of information. Innocently, I think to myself, “let me see if I can find a historical photo of…” and the next thing I know an hour went by and I’m reading about useless things that no one else will care about.

Before searching for this station, I didn’t consciously know that service stations had distinctive style names attached to them. This building is apparently of the “Denver style.” I suppose that makes sense in that there are sub-genres and colloquial names of all sorts of things. And really, I should’ve recalled having to look up what I now know to be a Phillips 66 “batwing” station.

There’s always something new to learn.

Speaking of rabbit holes, while I was looking for station info, I also stumbled across the Texaco Diamond T Doodlebug Tank truck. Sweet mercy, is it glorious, or what?

When I see buildings and vehicles like these it makes me feel a little sad that subsequent generations seem less invested in the artful design of every day or utilitarian buildings and such. There were so many charming stylistic elements at work. We’ve got a whole lot of bland going on these days. ::sigh::

Old Gas Station Links of Interest:

A Thursday Afternoon Ride Through Welch, West Virginia

A Thursday Afternoon Ride Through Welch, West Virginia

While in West Virginia, my friend Joe and I were just bumming around and looking at stuff. We stopped in the town of Welch. I’d read the name in the book The Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam. He grew up just ’round the way in Coalwood.

Welch is the McDowell county seat and a smoldering ember. Riding through it’s brick building-lined streets you could feel that there were secrets of it’s former life quietly tucked away. Secrets you could never know just by passing through.

A sweetly painted water tank along Route 16 that welcomes you to Welch and McDowell County.

Lovely mural on the corner of Wyoming & McDowell:

Ghost ad in a ghost-like town:

Fading away

A glimmer of the past.

The Merci Boxcar of Welch, WV.

A former Pure Oil service station which appeared to be still/recently in some type of use.

A lovingly painted mural along McDowell Street in downtown Welch.

A contrast between today and yesteryear. The Oddfellows Temple sign on the right in the streetview is the only thing that gives a clue that the image following is of the same place. Time marches on.


Saturday Afternoon – Downtown Welch, WV: 24 August 1946

Source: Russell Lee – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Airplane Filling Station – Powell, TN

Airplane Filling Station – Powell, TN

The Airplane Filling Station née Barber Shop has been on my bucket list for a few years. I got the opportunity to visit when I left Fredericksburg, Virginia following the Void Rally 11 and headed towards Catoosa, Oklahoma to see the blue whale. It was on the way. 🙂

During the time in which I’ve been aware of the station, it went from a crumbling shadow of its former self to the glimmering sheet metal beauty that it is today. That happened thanks to the efforts of some very dedicated people.

For some, it’s hard to justify or to allocate the funds to spend money on saving Americana landmarks. I bet a lot of people are interested in helping but hope or assume someone else will do it. That makes me all the more appreciative that people are able to pool their resource and give the time and dedication to make it happen.

“Airplane Filling Station [ca. 1931] taken by Robin Thompson. The Airplane Filling Station was built in 1929 by Henry and Elmer Nickle, located on Clinton Highway (near Callahan Road), Knox County, TN. Texaco gasoline.”


“The Airplane Filling Station was built in 1929 by Henry and Elmer Nickle (pictured), located on Clinton Highway (near Callahan Road), Knox County, TN. Texaco gasoline.”


More Info On The Airplane Filling Station


Airplane Filling Station
6829 Clinton Hwy
Knoxville, TN 37921

Petrol-Love: Olde Tyme Service Stations in Illinois

Petrol-Love: Olde Tyme Service Stations in Illinois

Last fall after finishing a stint at the Void Rally 10 in Virginia, I set off on a road trip around Illinois. My plan was to just bum around and look at stuff. As an Americana-lover, Illinois and it’s section of Route 66 have a lot to offer.

One thing that always catches my attention is old service stations. It must have something to do with my affinity for what petrol-powered vehicles represent to me: freedom, possibility, motion, the open road.

These were some of the lovely old stations that I saw in Illinois:

Dwight, Illinois:

Dwight, Illinois:

Dwight, Illinois:

Odell, Illinois:

Odell, Illinois:

Odell, Illinois:

I previously posted about this lovely old skeleton in Vienna, Illinois:

Never, Never Go To The Diner With a Murderous Gas Station Attendant

Never, Never Go To The Diner With a Murderous Gas Station Attendant

18-year old me in 1992. Stop laughing!

When I was a girl of about 18, I used to stop to fill up my car at the same full-service gas station often. Over time, it seemed that the guy who worked the pumps was glad to see me when I pulled in. He would chat me up as best he could with his limited English. Apparently flirting doesn’t require speaking the same language.

The attendant’s name was Raja. I knew this only because I read it off of his name tag as he gazed through my window, not because we’d ever formally introduced ourselves.

One summer night when my girlfriend and I were out cruising in her car, we stopped at the station where Raja worked. Somehow the conversation had moved in to a direction whose reasoning is lost to the cobwebs of my memory. I don’t recall who suggested it (I’m inclined to say it wasn’t me) but somehow we would be picking Raja up when his shift ended that night and going to the diner.

Uh… what?

During the hour or so that we had to kill before swinging by to pick him up, my friend and I had time to consider what we were doing. We were two giggling 18-year old girls picking up some strange 40-year old dude at 11:00 at night. The nagging voice of self-preservation began clearing its throat.

“Ahem. Yes, right then, ladies… This fellow with whom you can barely communicate is probably going to murder you in this very Ford Fairmont and no one will have any idea what happened.”

Right! Murderous gas station attendant! It happens all the time.

What we needed was a plan. And in our brilliance, the plan did not include simply not showing up to pick up the homicidal maniac who obviously pumped gas as a cover. No, that would be rude. What we would do instead was leave a trail of breadcrumbs in case the police needed a lead to go on. It made perfect sense.

We rummaged around in my friend’s car trying to find a scrap of paper. We would leave a note for the police in the glove compartment. Yes! Yes, that would be brilliant. Plus, the maniac would never think to look there after his murderous rage!

But we had to craft the note carefully so the authorities would be able to track down our killer. The police would sing our praises for being resourceful and our murderer would spend life behind bars.

When you’re riding shotgun as the passenger, the responsibility for writing notes to the police falls squarely in your lap. Thems the rules. And so I put pen to paper to avenge us…

“If we’re dead, we were with Raja.”




I guess you could say that writing with detail is something I’ve learned to do over time. 😏




Buzz’s Skelly Gas Station – Coen Brothers Filming Location?

Buzz’s Skelly Gas Station – Coen Brothers Filming Location?

The Coen Brother’s are currently shooting a movie called Inside Llewyn Davis staring Justin Timberlake. Some of the scenes are set to shoot here on Long Island in the town of Riverhead. While out riding today, after an off-handed comment by my friend Ben about an old gas station – I thought I would go take a look. I mean, I love that sort of Americana.

But when I got there, what I saw was too “perfect” to just be something a local was putting up for their own enjoyment. Then it dawned on me…

It’s part of the Coen Brothers movie set. The station doesn’t really exist. It’s on one of the roads set to close and well, you can see it’s a false front if you look to the side of the building.

Coen Brothers Buzz Skelly Timberlake Riverhead

I thought this was a pretty cool find.

Buzzs Skelly Gas Station Movie Location

Then and Now: Brick’s Gulf Gas and Service Station

Then and Now: Brick’s Gulf Gas and Service Station

There is just something that I love about old gas stations and gas pumps. There was often a stylish craftsmanship that we generally don’t see in the new all business, efficient stations of today. Beautiful looking gasoline pumps, decorative building elements, a person manning the station who does more than grunt at you when he gives you change at the register – perfect examples of they don’t make ’em like that anymore.

In many ways I suppose the gas station symbolizes being on the go and traveling. Perhaps that is part of what fuels my interest. If we’re filling up we’re going somewhere!

Brick’s Gulf Gas & Service Station – Then and Now

Then: Brick’s Gulf Gas Station – 1948
582 Sixth Avenue – West 17th Street – New York

So many beautiful vintage elements in this photo. From the construction of the station itself, to the vintage Gulf sign, to the fading ghost ads on the surrounding buildings. It’s hard to believe that this is the same 6th avenue of today.

Brick's Gulf Gas Station Sixth Avenue Manhattan 1948
Image courtesy: NY Public Library

Now: Sixth Avenue & West 17th Street – August 2010

6th Avenue and W 17th Street Today

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