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The Ostermann Station in Peach Springs, Arizona has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places

Osterman’s Shell Station, 1932

Peach Springs

Oscar Ostermann's Gas Station in Peach Springs

The Hualapai Indians nominated the Peach Springs Shell Station for the National Register of Historic Places and were accepted in 2009. Recently, it was placed on the register. The Hualapai Indian tribe owns the station these days and plans to restore it and start pumping gas again. They received a great from the National Park Service to do so. However,  Oscar Ostermann built the gas station in 1932, not his brother John in 1927. At the same time Oscar built the new gas station, he built the Peach Springs Auto Court next door.

Beatrice Boyd, whose husband, Frank, worked for Oscar and who purchased the Peach Springs Auto Court from Oscar in 1938, told me the story:

From Along Route 66:

“Swedish sailor John Osterman wanted to captain his own ship. In 1914 he set sail around the world, as was required by the Swedish Merchant Marine, but on a German ship. His ship was interned at Santa Rosalia, Mexico on the Baja Peninsula at the beginning of World War I. He jumped ship, ferried across the Gulf of California, made his way to Nogales, crossed the border into Arizona, and followed the railroad north to Phoenix where he went to work in a dairy. He hated the work. When the dairy shipped its cows, and John north, to summer pastures near Flagstaff, he took off and hopped a train to San Francisco with the intention of going back to sea. The railroad cops threw him off at Peach Springs where the largest body of water was a dry wash.

“He stayed, worked on a ranch, became a citizen, and was drafted when the United States went to war. After World War I, he returned to Peach Springs, opened a small gas station, and quickly developed a reputation for honest work. He would tow a car day or night. He stocked Ford parts, particularly springs–six were delivered daily from Los Angeles for folks who busted theirs on the rough road. He persuaded his brother, Oscar, to join him, sold him the gas station in 1925, and moved to Kingman. A year later the highway department designated the road in front of the gas station U.S. Highway 66, and then moved it a block north six year later. Oscar needed a new building: he built a jagged Alamo.

“He poured a two-story concrete frame, four bays wide, and filled it with concrete block, formed to look like quarried stone. By 1920 the reinforced concrete frame had come into general use in large industrial buildings–flour mills and factories, but it was unusual to see one on such a small scale.[Endnote #25] He housed his office and work room in the west half of the building and the garage in the east half. He provided a second-story sleeping room for the help behind the stepped facade over the garage. He finished it with a wide, spreading canopy that covered the pumps.” Photograph, 1998.

In  1998 when I was making a trip along Route 66 for my book, Along Route 66, I checked into the station to get permission from the Hualapai to drive across their lands and down into the Grand Canyon.

Along the road down into the Grand Canyon

It was a rugged, but worthwhile drive. Peach Springs received its name after farmers established peach orchards in the bottom of the canyon.

Here is a list of other Historic Sites on Route 66.


7 Responses

  1. Hi, Cousin Quinta,
    A Kenney cousin and I embarked on a Canyon raft trip from Peach Springs. We were driven down that road to the water. I saw the springs there and found equisetum around it, just like it grew along the Ohio Banklick Creek where I grew up!!

    In your history on Ostermann, you mention he lived at Kingman. He probably also visited the Santa Fe RR depot at Ash Fork, Arizona and rode the train to and from his home, etc. The architect Harrison Albright designed the Escalante Depot which housed a hotel and restaurant run by Fred Harvey and Co.; as well as a gift shop designed by Mary Coulter and was one of the first to offer Native American gifts. Osterman probably noticed the construction technique that Albright used which was reinforced concrete with the forms made from wood planks about 5 inches high. This is clearly seen on the Grand Canyon RR depot, also Albright designed; at Williams, Arizona. I have pictures of the walls and interior of the depot in my Albright file.

    Nothing is left except the concrete slab at Ash Fork, but SF still uses the yard to ship wonderful sandstone out of the mine nearby. Maybe its called flagstone, but it was wonderful hues of myriad color.

    Our paths cross again!! Julia in Lexington

    • Thank you, Julia:

      Remember it was Oscar Ostermann who built the Peach Springs Shell Station, not John.

      My information comes from Beatrice Boyd who purchased the Peach Springs Motel from Oscar in 1938 and whose husband, Frank, lived in the second floor room when he first moved to Peach Springs in 1932 or 1933.


  2. Hello Julia,
    Hello Quinta,
    it is amazing and interesting to learn more and more about the history of the Route 66 and it’s unique characters and people. We are running a EagleRider Harley Davidson Motorcycle rental business out of Flagstaff on Historic Route 66 in the building of the former ElPaso Dixie Carter’s which apparently was at one point in time a Phillips 66 gas station. We do have many international customers travelling the Mother Road and are always interested to excite them about the historic facts of the Route 66.
    As far as I checked and tried to find out, there is nowhere a information what sort (76, Conoco, Texaco, aso) of a gas station it was throughout the years.
    Do you or anyone out there has any information on this?
    Thank you!

    • Hello Jim:

      I can’t picture the gas station you are talking about.

      Have you seen my book, Along Route 66, which has the history of many of the buildings on the road.



  4. this try

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