The Ohio Oil Company was founded in 1887 when several northern Ohio oil production firms joined together to market their crude oil, primarily to Standard Oil. In 1889, Standard purchased Ohio Oil and operated the company asa production subsidiary until the breakup of Standard in 1911. After the Standard breakup, Ohio Oil continued as before with oil exploration and production, satisfied to sell their products as crude oil and leave the refining and marketing to others.

Ohio Oil saw the increasing need for marketing their own products with the ever increasing supply of automobiles appearing on the primitive roads. They finally ventured into marketing in June 1924 with the purchase of Lincoln Oil Refining Company of Robinson, Illinois. Lincoln Oil operated a refinery and about 20 retail gasoline stations in the Robinson-Terre Haute area at the time of the purchase. With an assured supply of crude oil for the small refinery, the Linco brand began to expand. By 1930 Ohio Oil and expanded the Linco brand throughout most of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Kentucky.

With huge successes in oil exploration and production ventures, Ohio Oil realized they needed even more retail outlets for their products. In 1930 Ohio Oil purchased Transcontinental Oil, a refiner/marketer that had marketed gasoline under the trademark “MARATHON” since 1920. They had aquired the brand from a Pittsburgh operation, Riverside Oil Company, that is believed to be a forerunner of Republic Oil Company. Transcontinental sold gasoline under the Marathon name across the Midwest and South, from North Carolina to New Mexico. Transcontinental can best be remembered for a significant “first” when in 1929 they opened several Marathon stations in Dallas, Texas in conjunction with Southland Ice Company’s “Tote’m” stores (later 7-Eleven) creating the first gasoline/convenience store tie in.

The Marathon brand proved so popular that by World War 2 the name had replaced Linco at stations in the original five state territory. During the war, the widespread Marathon territory couldn’t be properly supplied and marketing operations outside the Great Lakes area were sold, primarily to Tydol. Concentrating their marketing within a smaller territory allowed Marathon to expand within that area and the 1950's brought the first of many acquisitions, the Tower Oil Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. Ohio Oil continued to purchase other companies and expand throughout the 1950's and ‘60's. The company was renamed “MARATHON OIL” in 1962.

The many marketing companies of Marathon were brought together by the 1980's under a subsidiary, Emro Marketing. In 1981 U.S. Steel (USX) purchased the company and continues to market through retail dealer and jobbers under the Marathon name in North Central states and through Emro Marketing under several brand names, primarily Speedway and Starvin Marvin, throughout the South and East.