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Lighthouse Barbecue and Muirhead’s Filling Stations

Today we feature a pair of gasoline stations that opened for business in the pre-World War II days. The lead image and the enlargeable version of it (below) contain a postcard view of the Lighthouse No. 10 and filling station located in Valparaiso, IN. The facility opened for business on February 2, 1929, and offered four gas pumps out front, a barbecued chicken for sixty-five cents, a steak sandwich for fifty cents, and two brands of “soft drinks.”

Share with us what you find of interest in these photos via Vintage Filling Station History.

  • An early 1928 or ’29 Model “A” Ford coupe is parked at the gasoline pump island on the left-hand side of the photo and a later 1930 to ’31 Model “A” sedan on the right at the Lighthouse. 

  • John Muirhead opened this gasoline station located in Detroit, MI, in 1938 at the corner of Michigan Ave. and Military St. The pictures were taken later on September 13, 1944, while World War II gas rationing was in effect. 

 

21 responses to “Lighthouse Barbecue and Muirhead’s Filling Stations

  1. In the 3rd photograph [2nd expandable picture], in the left background, looks like a 1940 CADILLAC Sixty Special sedan, with dented rear fender.

  2. !st pic, cars of that era sure must have gone though a lot of water, and an interesting way to sell gas, as advertised, you think the ethyl is cheaper, but regular was .16 cents, I’m assuming per gallon, and ethyl was .18 cents. And 80 octane? Those cars ran on that? We thought our gas was bad.

    • 80 octane would be fine for many of the low compression engines of that day. Coleman fuel probably rates about 70 or so, my old sparkie model engines love it – although regular from the pump is much cheaper & they love that too.

  3. I’m no Model A expert, but I can see the vertical chrome strip at the rear of the hood on the ’30-31 sedan, though how can you tell that coupe is a ’28-29? Different front fender line?

    • Valporaiso, is about 12 miles or so south of Lake Michigan, Michigan City, nearby has a historic lighthouse, thus there maybe a connection to the lighthouse. Michael

  4. Very interesting photos.
    First photo: A “Dinning Room”, according to the dictionary, would be a room with loud and annoying noise. 50-cent steak sandwich would cost $7.50 in today’s dollars and the barbecued chicken, nearly $10. Ouch! Green River was (and still is) a bright green soft drink produced by the same company that brewed Edelweiss beer (have one for the road). There’s an interesting Wikipedia article on Green River soft drinks and Edelweiss beer.
    Second photo: A well used 1933-34 Ford Deluxe behind the pumps. “Ethyl” gasoline would cost $2.62 per gallon in today’s dollars, 20% higher than we pay for gas in Texas today.

  5. In the last photo it looks like the attendant is female, the bow on the bill of the hat plus what looks like long hair sure makes it seem like it.

  6. That bulk pricing for gasoline seems odd during the war rationing period as the coupons in the monthly ration books were generally good for two gallons each. For instance the eight coupons in an “A” book allowed Joe Average to purchase 16 gallons a month, enough to travel 240 miles at a presumed 15 mpg. So why burn a fourth two gallon coupon for only that seventh gallon? Perhaps this was a method of restricting the use of ethyl gasoline?

    Interesting note: In order to qualify for a ration book you had to certify you owned no more than five tires!

    Thanks TerryM, I’d never known about the connection between GreenRiver and Edelweiss before.

  7. I am no model A expert. However, it took me about one second to know the coupe was a ’28/’29, and the tudor a ’30/’31. It took about two seconds to think I saw a detail on the tudor to pin it down a bit closer. The running board and side apron (shield) was different between ’30 and ’31 (I would imagine with some model year crossover like which the earlier model Ts were notorious for). I zoomed in close, and confirmed the side apron is split at the front of the running board, a 1930 feature. In the ’30 models, the front foot plus of the side apron is spot welded onto the front fender. The rear most of the apron was permanently attached to the running board. For ’31 the side apron changed to a single piece, and was NOT attached to either the running board or fender except by bolts which could be easily removed.
    While zoomed in, I took a closer look also at the coupe. I noticed the color change around the upper body. The side/corner windows are not the same color as the back of the body where the rear window would be. I believe that would make this a “special” coupe. A rather short lived optional coupe style offered in part of ’28 and ’29 with a padded top extending down to the belt-line in the back. The “special” coupes were dropped from the line I think sometime early in ’29.

    Wonderful photos as usual David G! Thank you.

  8. After seeing the Edelweiss Beverages sign on the building I looked up the name on the net. That was(is ?) a brand name for a Bavarian beer with a company history dating back to 1475. Great images again David. They show what real blue collar American cars looked like,not all pristine and freshly washed as some movies and TV shows would have us think. They were dirty,dented and hoping the tires lasted untill after the war ended.

  9. I found an old newspaper article in the Vidette-Messenger of Porter County (Indiana) from November 17, 1932 that talks about a robbery of the Lighthouse Barbeque. It states the location of the business was at the intersection of Routes 2 and 30. This would have been at the southeast edge of Valparaiso or what today is the intersection of Routes 2, 30, and 49. We know it was near the airport because of a Facebook page that states, ” The lighthouse was functional and served as an aviation beacon.” The location had previously been the Welcome Inn. Old advertisements also list the Route 2 and 30 location.

    The newspaper article states the proprietor was Alpheus Americus Williams. Williams [1870 – 1940] who had been a professor of economics and mathematics as well as, starting in 1921, vice president, treasurer, and business manager of Valparaiso University. How long the business existed is not known, but Williams leased the entire business to a Mr. G. E. Emstrom in May 1933.

  10. Always remember my dad pulling up to the pump at Hancock’s Standard Station in New Castle, Ind. Guy Hancock would put down his tools in the garage, and pull out the rag in his back pocket to wipe the grease from his hands as he came out to the car. By then Dad would have cranked down the window to say, “Fill it with Ethyl,” They’d catch up on “news” of the town until the pump handle clicked. Guy would ask, “Put it on your tab?” Dad would say, “Yep.” Guy would always ask how I was doing. Then we’d take off. Maybe that still happens here and there.

    Guy and his brother, Earl, always let me hang out in the garage and use their tools to work on my bicycle. Even got to stand under the autos on the rack as they worked their magic on them.

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