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Route 66 News

Remnants of Bell gas station are demolished, but sign is saved

The deteriorating remains of the long-closed Bell gas station along Southwest Boulevard (aka Route 66) in southwest Tulsa were razed Wednesday.

However, the rusty Bell sign was salvaged the day before the bulldozer arrived, and plans are to eventually restore and re-install it at the nearby Route 66 Village.

Roy Heim, associated with the Route 66 Village, sent an email about the Bell station on Thursday:

We continue to lose places of the past along Route 66, but thanks to Greg Burkett, owner of American Demolition & Site Services, LLC of Tulsa, we captured the sign.  Greg carefully rigged and lowered the sign onto a trailer for the Route 66 Village so it could be saved for restoration and display at some point. Mike Massey of the Route 66 Village negotiated the deal with Greg Burkett.

Theses photos by Pete Zarria from 2011 show what the Bell gas station looked like, before the wrecking ball arrived. Even with the building’s basic structure being shored up only by nearby trees and the Bell sign being pitted with rust, it still made for an interesting photo opportunity:

 

Information about the history of the station is scant. A photo of the station from 1950 could be seen in the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s archives (photo has been cropped):

And an elderly woman who talked to a reporter from The Oklahoman newspaper in 2007 provided her memories of the station and the neighborhood:

Longtime residents like Esther Murray, 80, fondly recall the Route 66 era, and remember how the highway through Red Fork once thrived with restaurants, motels, gas stations, shops and even an amusement park.

“I remember how the kids loved to go to Bell’s Gas Station,” Murray said. “It was so cool, getting that Orange Crush for a nickel out of this big ice box.”

The property had been for sale for years. At last check, the asking price was $70,000.

The razing of the station saddened me and other west-side Tulsans. It was one of the few historic landmarks left on Route 66 in that part of town. However, I’m glad someone took the trouble to save the station’s most recognizable piece.

(Photos courtesy of Emily Priddy, Pete Zarria, and Roy Heim)

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5 thoughts on “Remnants of Bell gas station are demolished, but sign is saved

  1. Steve Davis

    Bell Oil Company, has a number of references on the web, but which one was the parent company of the filling stations? I remember Bell stations, up and down Route 66, they had very colorful gas pump globes. There was one at NW10th and Portland, here in the city, where my mother stopped for a fill-up on our yearly trips to Amarillo, to visit my grandparents. We’d stop again, for lunch at the Bell station at Shamrock, which had a nice cafe. It was still there, the last time I got off the fast road to look, though just an empty shell. Remember Knox filling stations?? Famous for giving out those Indian glasses back in the 50’s and early 60’s. How did they do it with the price of gas at 27.9??? Remember too the Bell guys, climbing a tall ladder to change their price sign by a penny or two. If they were three or four cents lower than the neighboring stations, it would create a long line. CURTS, HUDSON, GIBBLE GAS, APCO, all regional operators,faded from the scene, at just about the same time by the late 80’s

  2. Rick Martin

    Glad we got the chance to get some photos last year. Sad to see it removed but great to hear that the sign was rescued. Thanks for including the 1950 picture.

  3. Toby Dickens

    I appreciate and am honored that you used my photos in the story. Its so sad to keep losing these little pieces of the mosaic of America. Really glad I got to see it and I mourn those who wil never get that chance again..

    Pete Zarria

  4. Michael Shulman

    Just saw this photo of the demolished Bell station. So glad I photographed the building (front and back) with several sign shots in October 2012. Another classic gone! April 1 the Old Spunky Bridge on east Rice is coming down. See it before it’s too late even though it will find another home.

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