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Are We There Yet?
Fill 'er Up: The Evolution of Gas Stations in Wisconsin


This c.1930 "house"-style Sinclair
filling station remains in Janesville,
adjacent to a c.1990 Sinclair
convenience store. Courtesy
of Jim Draeger, personal collection.
The livery stable was a precursor to gasoline and filling stations, providing all the necessary items for overland travel, including automotive supplies and gasoline. The livery stable was not equipped to handle automotive traffic and was soon replaced by more convenient alternatives.

The gas station, also called the filling or service station, developed in the early 20th century to provide fuel and other automobile products at a convenient location for the growing number of car owners. The gas station also became a marketing tool in the fierce competition between independent producers and the companies of the former Standard Oil Trust, which monopolized about 85 percent of the total petroleum market before it was forced to split up in 1911. Over time the gas station evolved from a modest shed into a full-scale service station and eventually the modern convenience station.

Interested in learning more about Wisconsin gas stations? Check out the new Wisconsin Public Television program that looks at vintage gas stations as icons of architecture, economics and pop culture. Fill'er Up: The Glory Days of Wisconsin Gas Stations is a collaborative effort of the Wisconsin Historical Society and Wisconsin Public Television.
And watch for the Fill 'er Up Companion Book  from WHS Press by Jim Draeger and Mark Speltz. This book visits 60 Wisconsin gas stations still standing today and will be available in 2008.

These pages were developed as a cooperative project between the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation with assistance from Mead and Hunt.

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