I did not realize how historical these Bowser Red Sentry 241 pumps actually were and further research has been exciting.
Most agree that when “Good Gulf Gasoline” went on sale, Gulf Refining Company opened America’s first true drive-in service station.
The motoring milestone took place at the corner of Baum Boulevard and St. Clair Street in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on December 1, 1913.
Unlike earlier simple curbside gasoline filling stations, an architect purposefully designed the pagoda-style brick facility offered free air, water, crankcase service, and tire and tube installation.
“This distinction has been claimed for other stations in Los Angeles, Dallas, St. Louis and elsewhere,” notes a Gulf corporate historian.
“The evidence indicates that these were simply sidewalk pumps and that the honor of the first drive-in is that of Gulf and Pittsburgh.”
The Gulf station included a manager and four attendants standing by. The original service station’s brightly lighted marquee provided shelter from bad weather for motorists.
“On its first day, the station sold 30 gallons of gasoline at 27 cents per gallon. On its first Saturday, Gulf’s new service station pumped 350 gallons of gasoline,” notes the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
“Prior to the construction of the first Gulf station in Pittsburgh and the countless filling stations that followed throughout the United States, automobile drivers pulled into almost any old general or hardware store, or even blacksmith shops in order to fill up their tanks,” the historical commission explains.
The decision to open the first station along Baum Boulevard in Pittsburgh was no accident.
By 1913 when the station was opened, Baum Boulevard had become known as “automobile row” because of the high number of dealerships that were located along the thoroughfare.
“Gulf executives must have figured that there was no better way to get the public hooked on using filling stations than if they could pull right in and gas up their new car after having just driven it off the lot,” notes a commission historian.
In addition to gas, the Gulf station also offered free air and water – and sold the first commercial road maps in the United States.
“The first generally distributed oil company road maps are usually credited to Gulf,” says Harold Cramer in his Early Gulf Road Maps of Pennsylvania.
This Gulf station was servicing the public thru four or more Bowser cut 241 Red Sentry swing door pumps
. These Bowser pumps were well recognized by the “Red Sentry”
graphics along with “filtered gasoline” .