There was a time when gas stations were things of beauty or roadside novelty. Sure, today some are designed to be visually stunning... but most are not. They're meant to be places you stop at on your way somewhere, not a part of the journey. Here are some of the most eye-popping gas stations to ever dot the American road. (Some are still operational!)
Sometimes you build an airport and have some pieces leftover. Sometimes those pieces become the roof of a gas station. Jack Colker's Union 76 has one of the most dramatically stunning roofs ever put on a gas station thanks to using parts originally intended for LAX. They're still open, too, with many full-service pumps like the good ol' days, just beware they charge a pretty penny for these feelings of nostalgia.
Sure, the novelty of a gas station shaped like a teapot is cute, but the backstory is even better. The Teapot Dome Service Station was built to poke fun at President Harding's Teapot Dome Oil Scandal. The little station has been moved several times over the years, and lovers of the teapot are still trying to preserve it.
Cloquet, MN is home to Frank Lloyd Wright's only gas station. R.W. Lindholm's children studied architecture and encouraged him to have Wright design his home, and a few years later, he had Wright create this gas station concept as well. Based on Wright’s futuristic Broadacre City plan of 1934, the gas station was a nice place to work in Wright's ideas for a new decentralized urban landscape.
Shell built eight of these kitschy, shell-shaped beauties, and sadly the one in Winston-Salem, NC is the only one remaining. Thanks to Preservation North Carolina, we have this Shell restored to its original glory for taking all the photos your tourist heart desires.
Two brothers coupled their love of airplanes with the automobile boom to create this roadside relic, a plane-shaped service station in Knoxville. Although rumors circulate about the plane having crash landed and turned into a filling station, truth is the brothers built the "plane" to take advantage of a recent widening of U.S. 25 and all those new motorists. Today, fans of the site are trying to save the plane.
There's not much to Shamrock, Texas, except that Route 66 once ran right through town. That was enough to inspire the Tower Conoco Station (and U-Drop Inn Cafe). The Great State of Texas is now working to turn the place into the coolest retro rest stop ever. (And be honest, you knew you recognized it from the movie "Cars".)
The Helios House Gas Station is special because not only does it look totally funky, but it's also super green. The roof collects rainwater, has cacti planted on it, and features solar panels. Plus, it's made of recycled stainless steel! If you feel bad about the carbon footprint you're leaving by driving around in your car, you can at least alleviate some of your guilt by filling it up here.
Whether you love roadside kitsch or you're an architecture buff, there's a gas station out there that will get you excited to make a pit stop!