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What is: a Texaco gas station with a white Pontiac out front, the ghost town of Glenrio, TX

What was: The Texaco station was built by Joseph (Joe) Brownlee in 1950 on Route 66 at a time when Glenrio, TX was often bumper to bumper with traffic. Interstate 40 opened in 1973 and by 1975, Glenrio was on its way to becoming a ghost town as everything closed up.

Roxann Bownlee, daughter of Joe, grew up helping her father at the gas station.  It was a family enterprise.  In 1970, Roxann married Larry Lee Travis.  With the decline of business in Glenrio, Larry rented the Standard Service Station near Adrian, Texas and each day drove the 25 miles to Adrian in his white Pontiac.

At the time, a group of gas, shop and service station owners had banded together as a vigilante force to patrol the streets of Vega and Adrian.  On March 7th a 23-year-old Texan called Lewis Steven Powell entered the Standard Service Station. No-one knows what happened in those few minutes, whether Larry – proud of his hard work – refused to hand over his takings, but Powell made him kneel down and shot him in the back of the head before robbing the till.

Larry never came home, but his Pontiac Catalina did, and it keeps silent sentinel in Glenrio. Roxann still lives in the house behind with family and dogs, one of the few remaining resident of Glenrio.

What is: Broyles Mobil Station, Glenrio, NM, at the front is a drive-thru bay with a wood canopy roof extension. This is supported by two original wood posts. On the far right side is an outbuilding which was built as a restrooms.

What was: John Wesley Ferguson constructed the building in 1925ish and it was later owned by Jim Broyles as a franchise of the Mobil Oil Company. The construction of U.S. 66 through Glenrio in the 1920s brought new businesses and a new commercial area evolved along the highway, as the railroad town of Glenrio had started to wane. By the 1960s, the community boasted two motels, three restaurants, and at least seven gas stations

For the past 100 years gas stations have occupied prime locations along main streets, suburban corners, on small town roads and highway. They are one of America’s most commercial building types and over the years have gone through various architectural design iterations. They represent America’s mobility, car culture, pop culture, corporate standardization/branding and the changes in customer service – from staff to fill the tank and clean your windshield, to full service garages, sale of roadmaps, bathrooms, diners and corner stores.

The advent of the Interstate highway network routed traffic away from the once-thriving often family owned gas stations, now located on secondary roads, many falling into disrepair.

In 1969, there were 236,000 gas stations. By 2016, there were 111,000 retail locations in the U.S. that sell fuel to the public. The number of gas stations has been declining over the past ten years due, in part, to increased competition, stricter environmental regulations, and shrinking gasoline profit margins.

Broyles in 2022

What is: Abandoned building, Glen Rio, New Mexico

What was: A roadside America story, without a story. Maybe an abandoned part of a gas station, like an bathroom ?

What is: the Glenrio ghost town straddles the New Mexico-Texas border. This gas station, motel and cafe had a sign facing each direction…it was either the first in texas, or the last depending on the travels along Route 66. The old Route 66 roadbed runs through the Glenrio Historic District which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.

What was: In 1901 the railway came through this area of Texas/New Mexico and the small town of Glenrio was born. The train arrived on the Texas side of the town. The post office was established on the New Mexico side. The Texas side was in a dry county. The gasoline taxes were cheaper on the New Mexico side. By 1905 the area was opened up to small farmers. By 1920, Glenrio had a hotel, a hardware store, and a land office, as well as several grocery stores, service stations, and cafes. By 1940 the population of the town was 30 people.

With the advent of Route 66 Glenrio became a popular stopping place for travelers and a “welcome station” station was built near the state line. One former resident recalls constant traffic during the daytime, with cars lined up five or six in a row waiting to get gas. Last in/first in was owned and built by Homer Ehresman, and his family ran the business between 1953 and 1976. With the advent of Interstate 40, bypassing the town, it became a ghost town.