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Vintage Gas: Back Home in Indiana at the Dixie Bee Garage

Today’s lead image and other versions below shows a view of the “Dixie Bee” Garage which sold Polar Bear and Sho-Me Gasoline produced by the Sho-Me Oil and Refinery Co. The photo apparently shows the owner of the Garage, Arthur Johnson in front of the “Sho-Me” visible style gasoline pump on the far-right with his crew. The second visible gas pump on the far-left dispensed “Polar Bear” gasoline and in the background is a Sho-Me Gasoline and Oil Co. tank truck with its driver sitting on the front fender.

Research has found that Tom Roznowski reported in his book “An American Hometown: Terre Haute, Indiana, 1927”,,,.  “The Dixie Bee Garage was owned by Arthur Johnson and located at 2804 South 7th Street and Wabash in downtown Terre Haute on US Route 41, which ran from Chicago, Illinois, to Miami”…. “The highway was known as the Dixie Bee Line”…. “Arthur and his wife Maud lived right next door at 2802 south 7th Street.”

The 1904 Biennial Report of the Secretary of State of Indiana reveals that the Sho-Me Oil Company began operations in the State with ten-thousand dollars in capital stock on September 8, 1904. Sho-Me Gasoline and oil were produced by the Sho-Me Oil and Refinery Co. in Richards, MO, which was later relocated to Sullivan, MO. When in Richards the Company had a group of oil wells and a refinery that was later reported as being abandoned.

Tell up what you find of interest in this image. You can view over 200 other Vintage Gasoline Station pictures here on The Old Motor. The photo is courtesy of Jeremy Gilmore and is via Petroliana.

Editors note: Sorry for the change, but the Kodachrome Car Image Series will return again next Friday. 

16 responses to “Vintage Gas: Back Home in Indiana at the Dixie Bee Garage

  1. Dang, and on a snowy Friday ( I know, I ate my words on that one, it will be gone tomorrow) Life was slow in the Hoosier in the 20’s, the guys didn’t move much between the 2 pics,,,,I do indeed know the “Dixie Bee Line” Highway. In the 60’s, before I-65, 41 was the main route to the south. We took it every winter. I seem to remember, it was 4 lane, but went through every little town. It took us 2.5 days to get from Milwaukee to Florida ( a 22 hour trip today, with the hammer down) How my old man did that, pulling a trailer, I’ll never know.

    • There is a song from the 1920s titled “ON THE DIXIE BEE LINE (IN THAT HENRY OF MINE)” recorded by Uncle Dave Macon.

      “Some folks says that a Ford won’t run,
      Just let me tell you what a Henry done:
      She left Louisville about half past one,
      Oh, she got into Nashville at the settin’ of the sun.

      On the Dixie, on the Dixie Bee Line,
      Going to rise and shine, I’m going to stay up to time,
      Rise and shine, I’m gwine to keep up to time,
      When I ride in that Henry of mine”

      Lots of interesting off TOM topic history associated with Henry Ford, WWI munitions plants, TVA dams and the may Muscle Shoals area industrial development schemes over the period prior to the TVA being formed.

  2. Looks like the garage is still there, but with an “updated” Mansard style 70’s roof. And Arthur and Maud’s place is still next door. Always interesting to Google Earth addresses for a “then and now’ comparison.

  3. Maybe somebody can tell us why they always show such small tanker trucks in these old gas station pictures. Were the gas station tanks that small back then? Today’s single axle tanker trucks only hold about 3,000 gallons and that’s with duals on the drive axle. Now they’re using 4-axle trailers or B-trains hold around 15,000.

    • Hi Jim, I believe, that’s exactly why. I looked up, for example TOTAL gas usage for 1925 in Indiana, was 283,174 gallons( we probably use that in 15 minutes now) so less than 1,000 gallons a day for all the gas stations in the state, so not much gas was sold. Most of these older tank trucks had 4 or 5 compartments, of maybe a couple hundred gallons each, of all kinds of oil products, kerosene, diesel, and motor oil, as well as gas. Some orders were so small, they had separate 10 gallon cans on the truck.

      • Yes sir, a lot less people, less drivers, less cars, and those that had them, drove much fewer miles daily.

        As youngster a friend of the family owned a Texaco, I asked him could I work for him. I liked him, he liked me. We were a good fit.

        On principle (the pay was not much) he would not hire me because it meant seventeen miles one way. I was skilled enough and personable (my uncle who had sold his Gulf station trained me to service cars –
        lube tune-up brakes) The idea of driving thirty four miles daily, did not sit well with him. I found what I wanted three miles from home.

      • Thank you Howard! Between you and Bill Blue, those small tankers now make a lot more sense. The Old Motor fans sure know their stuff!

  4. By the sixties, US 41 was known as “Killer 41”. It is now very lightly used, mostly by local traffic.

    Yes, gasoline was delivered in small quantities, There was no need for huge delivery trucks which was good, as the roads could not support them. However, the truck in the photo was a home delivery truck, not a gasoline station delivery truck.However, It was very common for local gas stations to offer complete petroleum services. That included farm gasoline and kerosene, home delivery, mostly kerosene for the kitchen range and space heaters. The truck in the photo was a home delivery truck, not a gasoline station delivery truck.

    In the late forties, my grandfather had an 80 acre farm, two horses and one 25hp gasoline tractor. Gasoline was stored in two 55 gallon drums which were filled by a truck very similar in size to the one in the photo.

    Things have changed!


  5. It looks like there is some brand name, maybe of the truck chassis under the cab – Mutual. Anybody know anything about a truck manufacturer “Mutual” they could share?

    • That was a new one to me.

      Online searching finds a Mutual Truck Co. of Sullivan Indiana.

      A few ads and articles in the publications of the day turned up.

      Apparently in business ca 1919 to 1921.

      “Founder and President Robert E Petrie”
      “America’s Greatest Truck” with “super specifications”.
      “Over-size Over-power UNDERPRICE”

      Declared insolvent and forced into receivership in November of 1921.

  6. Just this morning, I noticed two narrow-neck glass with tapered metal TOP for most All Engine Oil Fill Pipes Went Quick !!!at our AACA Club Swap – Meet at the Smithtown School House Meeting place. When I was Greasing & Oiling as young Mechanic , I knew of nothing Simpler or Better for Adding oil Quickly! You could also See if the engine Could drink fast or slow down — by just watching the bubbling-up -oil flow, and adjusting the tilt — accordingly! Most other oil adding methods did not have this simple luxury = spills ! The “matching” Square (Specific weight )oil tanks with hand pump and side- movement catch – pipe, were ideal for Refills of these Metal topped bottles. Each one of these square shaped tanks had a steel Dipstick that would help in re-ordering inventory from your Supplier. The whole USA used this very convenient supply & dispensing source for engine oils , and many Service Garages — to this day, preferring this “manual” but efficient system! Edwin W.

  7. Sterling? Note the one piece step bracket and the shape of the rear spring hanger. This could be one of the smaller Sterling models as other Sterling models featured these, qv.

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