A WV Texaco conversion in 3 pictures

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Andrew T.
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A WV Texaco conversion in 3 pictures

Post by Andrew T. »

As an archivist and local history researcher, one of my favourite resources is small-town yearbooks. These often contain sponsor ads and photos of local scenes, and sometimes these are the only real record of the businesses that once existed in places that were simply too small to ever command a city directory to be published. Also, they can capture changes in the built history.

A case in point? Take the tale of this Texaco station in the West Virginia town of Franklin (pop. 721), located in a sparsely-populated section of a sparsely-populated state:
Texaco82.jpg
Franklin High School Yearbook, 1982: It's an archetypal Teague Texaco in its classic green-and-white porcelain enamel glory. The pumps are "bare," with no canopy. It's a scene that wouldn't have looked any different 20 or 30 years earlier. (And speaking of 30 years earlier, note the 1950 Ford juxtaposed with more modern 1970s cars!)
texaco88.jpg
Franklin High School Yearbook, 1988: Now a few years have gone by, and things are starting to look mighty strange. The station has been brought into accordance with the "System 2000" look, with an aesthetically-dubious coat of grey and red paint covering up the green and white porcelain enamel and a black canopy now covering the pumps. Note the frightening pile of discarded tires in the background, which would never fly today. Also note that three different eras of Texaco branding were visible: The 1950s "TEXACO" lettering on the building, the Matawan-era hexagon sign, and the current logo!
texaco92.jpg
Franklin High School Yearbook, 1992: By this point, the Texaco branding was gone altogether...and irony of ironies, the station rebranded itself as Chevron! (Note that this was eight years before the companies merged.) All the signage has changed, and the Teague station building (still with stripes visible) has been repainted a blinding white. Meanwhile the Coke machine hasn't budged, and several of the gas pumps are the exact same ones visible in the 1982 picture.

No specific address is given in the ads, but thanks to surrounding buildings and topography I traced the location to here. A gas station still stands on the site, but by now the Teague building and Chevron branding are both long-gone.
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull
Jason B.
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Re: A WV Texaco conversion in 3 pictures

Post by Jason B. »

That's a great idea, to study high school yearbooks/annuals for the business advertisements (esp. ones with photos of the business). I rescued a 1941 Irvine, Kentucky high school yearbook/annual from a recycling bin in California in 2021, contacted the current historical society covering Irvine, Kentucky, and mailed it to them. I'd never heard of Irvine, Kentucky before, so I enjoyed studying the book's contents before I mailed it.

Concerning the Texaco station conversion in your example, it reminded me of the 2008 GM Chevy Volt television commercial about the evolution of a fictitious "Dawn" brand service station in a mountainous location. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ITuKHpWKlQ
That soundtrack played in my mind as I viewed your photo series.

One of the biggest, little-known and untapped photo collections in California is the Caltrans "photolog" series, which dates back to around 1971 and has continued to the present. This was a predecessor to "Google Street View," beginning some 36 years earlier. It consists of color photos taken every 52.8 feet on every mile of state highway in California, in both directions. The freeways are less interesting than the two-lane conventional highways and urban arterial roadways because the later images capture commercial establishments that are directly by the roadside (especially automotive service stations). I don't want to excite users of this website too much (because most of these photos are inaccessible to the public at present), but in many cases one can find a series of photos covering a FIFTY YEAR-period at tens of thousands of locations across California.

If there's interest, I can write-up my findings about the automotive service stations seen in the 1971 (or 1972) Caltrans photolog for one California city. It includes a few brands that I've never heard of.
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Andrew T.
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Re: A WV Texaco conversion in 3 pictures

Post by Andrew T. »

Hey, a reply!
Jason B. wrote: 15 Nov 2021 04:55One of the biggest, little-known and untapped photo collections in California is the Caltrans "photolog" series, which dates back to around 1971 and has continued to the present. This was a predecessor to "Google Street View," beginning some 36 years earlier. It consists of color photos taken every 52.8 feet on every mile of state highway in California, in both directions. The freeways are less interesting than the two-lane conventional highways and urban arterial roadways because the later images capture commercial establishments that are directly by the roadside (especially automotive service stations). I don't want to excite users of this website too much (because most of these photos are inaccessible to the public at present), but in many cases one can find a series of photos covering a FIFTY YEAR-period at tens of thousands of locations across California.
Wow! The province of British Columbia did the same thing, shooting footage of highways as early as 1966. A few of the earliest 16mm film reels have been posted online, and they're phenomenal for documenting the gas stations, sundry businesses, and roadway signage that existed decades ago...if you can step through them frame by frame. Otherwise, blink and you'll miss it! (There is a Super Valu and a Safeway visible in the Highway 97 video. Good luck trying to find them.)
Jason B. wrote: 15 Nov 2021 04:55If there's interest, I can write-up my findings about the automotive service stations seen in the 1971 (or 1972) Caltrans photolog for one California city. It includes a few brands that I've never heard of.
Yes, that would be interesting!
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull
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