Gas stations along Route 66 were something unspectacular in the grand scheme of things. Since people needed gas to make the drive there was thus a need for filling stations. The Ambler’s Texaco Gas Station, previously known as Becker’s Marathon Gas Station was a little something special though. The now non-operational service station was until 1999 the longest operating service station on Route 66. While the pumps are no longer filling up cars on their way westward, the station is a Historic U.S. Route 66/Village of Dwight visitor’s center for the city of Dwight, Illinois, and a popular roadside attraction.
Ambler’s Texaco Gas Station opened its doors and its pumps in 1933 and filled up gas tanks along the Mother Road till 1999. A mere two years later it was named to the National Register of Historic places and in 2005 the city of Dwight started restorations.
The station has changed hands several times but was owned by Basil “Tubby” Ambler from 1938-1965. This not only made him the longest owner and operator, but gave the historic station its common name. After changing hands a few more times, Ambler’s was purchased by Phil Becker in 1970. Becker, a local and longtime employee was suddenly and unexpectedly faces with the decision of how to keep the station operating. In 1970-71 (exact date is unavailable) Texaco stopped supplying the location with gasoline and Becker was forced to reach out to another supplier. He found the salvation of his station with the Marathon Oil company and it was then that the name was changed from Ambler’s Texaco Gas Station to Becker’s Marathon Gas Station. Becker and his wife ran the business till 1996 and instead of looking for new buyers (which would have been exceedingly difficult), they chose to donate the little building and land to the village of Dwight.
In 2005, the village of Dwight applied for a $10,400 federal cost-sharing grant from the U.C National Park Service as part of the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program. The grant allowed the Dwight to start restoration, and thus became the rest stop and visitor’s center we can all enjoy today.
Ambler’s Texaco Gas Station Facts
- The station dispensed fuel for 66 continuous years.
- For many years there was an operational icehouse on the site. The ice was cut from a small pond on the property and building still stands but, refrigeration…
- Ambler’s was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2001.
- The restored station is owned by the village of Dwight.
- Ambler’s Texaco was built in 1933 by Jack Schore on property originally owned by Otto Strufe.
- There are strict criteria for gas stations along Route 66 being listed on the National Register of Historic Places and they must have an important connection the local area as well as a strong association with early traffic and tourism.
- The station was restored to appear as it was in the 1940s, complete with historically accurate pumps and signage.