Friday, January 24, 2014

At U.S. 50 and First Street: Walton Service Stations

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

2014 is off to a great start at the Harvey County Historical Museum and Archives!  Two exhibits opened on January 18 and visitors enjoyed a wonderful Sunday Afternoon Program given by Marti McCartney on January 19.  With this post we will resume our blog schedule of posting once a week.  Look for new posts to be published on Friday of each week.

The small Harvey County town of Walton is our featured community for 2014. Throughout the year, we will post stories related to Walton history. 

Because of the location along the busy Highway 50, Walton is a convenient stop for travelers. As a result service stations have served an important role in the community.  The history of a gas station in a community can be hard to track.  The following is based on information that we have at the Harvey County Historical Museum and Archives.  If you have additional information, corrections or photographs, please contact HCHM.

In 1905, Sylvanus F. Bowser developed a pump that would take gas out of a barrel and fill the tank of an automobile.  The first "filling stations" were often a pump placed on the sidewalk in front of a general store.   

Advertisement for Wayne Cut 276
in Motor Age Magazine, 1912 
This caused congestion as horse-drawn vehicles and pedestrians were also on the roads and sidewalks near the store. Soon the idea of a separate 'drive-in' business was adopted.  By the 1920s, the major oil companies were trying to make their product stand out and identifiable with eye catching buildings and signs. 

Standard Oil Co. Service Station, Walton, Ks 

One of the earliest Walton stations was owned and operated by Harry Davis. The Standard Oil Co Service Station was constructed in the early 1920s. The original location is not known at this time, but in the mid-1920s the station was moved to the intersection of 1st Street and Highway 50 to take advantage of the traffic on the new highway.  Davis ran the business from 1923 to 1931.  Dutch Wise was the owner/operator from 1931 to 1937. 
 Standard Oil Station, Walton, 1925
Located at US 50 and !st Street
Owned/operated by Harry Davis
Features two gravity-flow pumps

Standard Oil Co. Service Station, Walton
Model constructed by Leslie Walton 
based on above photograph.
"House with Canopy" style ca. 1920
HCHM Service Station Collection

Gravity Flow Pumps

The owner just set down his coke!

Walton Oil Co. Service Station, Walton, Ks.

Walton Oil Co., Phillips 66
Frank Wise, Owner/Operator

Frank Wise opened Walton Oil Co using the Phillips brand of fuel in the 1930s at the corner of US 50 and First Street in Walton.  He operated a service station in Walton until 1950.

Walton Oil Co., Phillips 66
Frank Wise, Owner/Operator

Walton Oil Co.,Phillips 66
 Frank Wise Owner/Operator on the right
Walton Oil Co.,Phillips 66
 Frank Wise Owner/Operator
Along US 50 at West Main, Walton

Other Walton Service Stations based on information collected by Richard Hege.
  • L.W. Ames Oil Co., owner: Levy Ames; 1923-1930
    • Location south side of Main/east side of 1st.
  • Walton Oil Co. Phillips 66; owner: Gail Reusser,  1938-1963.
  • Farmer's Grain Co-op: Co-op, 1963-2001.
  • Ray Rillings: 1965.
  • B.J.'s: owner: Bill and Gene Tatro and Jeff, Jess and Virgil Hiebert - early 1990s.
  • Hilltop Convenience Store: Rick and Twila VanRossun, ?-2005.
  • Ampride: Ampride, 2001-2005.


  • Hege, Richard.  HCHM Service Station Collection.
  • HCHM Photo Collection.
  • Anderson, Scott.  Check the Oil: Gas Station Collectibles with Prices, 1996
  • Jakle, John A. and Keith A. Sculle.  The Gas Station in America Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1994.
  • Rosofsky, Ira. "History of the Gas Station",
  • Vieyra, Daniel I.  Fill'er Up: An Architectural History of America's Gas Stations. Macmillan, 1980
  • Witzel, Micheal K.  The American Gas Station: History and Folklore of Gas Stations in America. Barnes and Noble Books, 1999.
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1 comment:

  1. There was a filling station on Highway 50 on the east side of Newton which also catered to fishermen, selling bait, etc. If someone caught a large fish it might be on display in a tank near the station. It was a favorite place for a bottle of pop and a candy bar.