Before 1921, interstate roads in America, as we know them today, did not exist. Most routes only served their local communities and were not built to link to other communities. Local businesses created and managed the few existing interstate roads to support commerce. Still, they were not much more than a hodgepodge array of disconnected, unregulated routes built with various construction materials. As the number of cars in the United States exploded from only 4,200 in 1901 to 7.5 Million in 1920, the road systems were not keeping up. This demand led the states to ask the federal government for help.
In 1921 the US government enacted the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1921, providing funds to states to develop a cohesive interstate road system. The most famous road created under this funding is Route 66, the premiere east-west route. A less well-known highway that is an equally important road in US history is Route 89. Route 89 was the king of the North-South routes starting at the Mexican Border at Nogales, Arizona. Route 89 is 1,342 miles long, traveling through 150 small towns, and connects seven national parks ending at the Canadian border just east of Glacier National Park in Montana.
One of those small towns along Route 89 is Yarnell, Arizona. Like many small towns along the way, Route 89 incorporated their main street into the road system. In 1933 this section of Route 89 was paved, providing an easy route between Phoenix and Prescott, Arizona. This road improvement resulted in more cars traveling along this way, and one can imagine many early cars needing fuel or water after navigating Yarnell Hill with its 1,200-foot altitude gain in four miles. So there is no better place to have a gas station than in Yarnell.
In 1933, a Texaco station was built directly across the street from Yarnell's trading post and post office. At the time of its construction, there were very few businesses in town, and with the increased traffic and drivers stopping for fuel, the station quickly became the town's heart.
Like many early western gas stations, the station was built with locally sourced materials. This station sports an amazing mix of colorful rocks from the surrounding hills.
This full-service gas station operated from 1933 until the early 1990s. During that time, the station had a few owners, with the Eastwood family being the last. When the station closed, Errol Eastwood and his family began a labor of love to return the station to the true spirit of a 1950s Texaco Station.
Icon of the 1950s
The Tokheim Model 39 gas pumps were very popular in the late 1940s and into the 1950s. The lighted globe on these pumps allowed the stations to market their product and made them an icon of the time. Few things epitomize the draw of the open road of the 1950s more than these pumps. The station sports two skillfully restored Tokeim Model 39 Texaco pumps.
Adding to the full effect, the station has a 1950 F-1 Ford pickup at the Ethyl pump.
Today we are all too familiar with the self-service gas station. However, in the not-too-distant past, gas stations such as this one were full service; not only did they fill up your car, but you could also get repairs done. This station reflects that period with its large attached white garage. Even though this nondescript building does not look like much on the outside, you will be amazed at what is inside.
Stepping inside, you find a fully functional garage that transports you back to the heydays of the open road and muscle cars of the 1950s and 60s. You are treated to an impressive array of old signs. Many of these signs represent the town's history, as many were on display at some time in Yarnell's past.
The garage is also home to this stunning 1932 Deuce Coupe. This spectacular 1932 Ford Deuce Coupe is the pride of the Eastwood family. The Eastwoods purchased this coupe in 1963 and have meticulously restored the coupe, including a hand-rubbed lacquer finish. The finish is so deep that if you look at the top of the front fenders, you can see the reflection of the garage ceiling.
If you find yourself on Route 89, head to Yarnell and check out this historic gas station. Ask Errol for a tour, and check out the store, which offers a fantastic collection of antiques.