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Bill’s Place: Ten Gasoline Pumps And No Waiting

In days gone by, long before the first four lane highways were constructed in the States, two lane roads, and US highways were the only means of travel. On a number of these thoroughfares passing over mountains and hills with long range scenic views, entrepreneurs constructed facilities that allowed tourists to take in the view, and then attempted to sell them something.

On Ray’s Hill located in Bush Creek Township in central Pennsylvania, east of Bedford on US Route 30, William Wakefield a huckster, began selling trinkets at a roadside vista with an elevation of 1958-feet and a forty mile view of the scenic countryside. By reinvesting his profits, in time he built up a road side “tourist trap” complete with a tower, the smallest post office in the country, a store for selling sheep skins and Indian knickknacks, ten gasoline pumps selling fuel from six oil companies, and an open fronted repair garage out back.

According to the book “Greetings From The Lincoln Highway” by Brian Butko in 1923 Wakefield began his endeavors there and continued to operate it for quite some time. He later sold the operation, and it was closed and torn down due to changes in the late-1960s on the nearby Pennsylvania Turnpike when a bypass of the Sideling Hill Tunnel was constructed.

Views hundreds of earlier vintage filling station photos here. The photos are via Ameristation.

An early postwar view of the gasoline pump island at Bill’s Place.


9 responses to “Bill’s Place: Ten Gasoline Pumps And No Waiting

  1. My wife is from Somerset, Pennsylvania and I traveled this are extensively in the late 1950s and early 60s. Sorry I missed this-must have been a blast.

  2. It would be most interesting to do a story on the states that allowed Split Pumpers to operate onward from 1930. I have vintage shots from California showing such service stations up to the eary 40, Maryland , probably , the same .

  3. Reminds me of the yearly family trips from NYC to SW Ohio in the 50’s. The only Interstate type highway was the Pa Turnpike. Traveling through Wheeling WV and Columbus Ohio meant an overnight stay in Washington WV . The chain of Stucky’s was the best place to stop to freshen up. Only 600 miles but a real adventure then for a 10 year old.

  4. The “Bills Place Facility – appears to be a: Gas Station , Restaurant, Overnight Lodging, and the small building Out back — might be for: Chauffers , Footmen, or: Less expensive lodging. I t also might be for a : Night Watchman / Desk Clerk. The fenced area with a (stairs) viewing platform – might be an animal enclosure ., or the platform might be for Viewing, if Bill’s place is: “On a hill with a view “. Edwin W.

  5. The ten pumps appear so closely spaced that it’s likely no more than two or three vehicles could be fueled at a time. And it’s just my luck that I’d have been waiting in line behind someone who couldn’t make up their mind which of the six brands of gasoline they wanted. Wonder if the pump jockeys were versed in the inherent advantages of each with, of course, the upsell to the most costly. Do you suppose anyone ever pulled in and just for fun said “I’ll take two gallons of each one?”

  6. I assumed the building out back was the “open fronted repair garage” mentioned in the 2nd paragraph of this article. Bad photo but I make out on the far left of the building a drive through of some kind and to the right of that badly blurred but what appears to be two open stalls and then the small house like structure.

  7. What a visionary this man was , and that he sold fuel from multiple companies , unheard of these day s , and would never be allowed , nor has been in Australia
    Interesting to note …his name was William Wakefield as WAKEFIELD’S were wealthy distributors of oil products in the UK and produced and sold oils under the CASTROL brand in Australia
    Additionaly , this site is always a facinateing read …….cheers from ”’down under ”

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