Full-service since 1909

“Service!” shouts the filling station attendant. With the driver sitting comfortably inside their vehicle, the crew of Reighard’s get to work pumping gas, cleaning the windshield, checking the fluids and tire pressure. This detailed level of full-service hospitality has gone unchanged since 1909 making it the oldest continual operating gas station in America. 

Altoona, Pennsylvania, located about 100 miles east of Pittsburgh, has been Reighard’s home base for more than a century. 

History

Altoona was a town was created specifically by The Pennsylvania Railroad in 1849 to extend the railroad west over steep mountain ridges. The world-famous “Horseshoe Curve,” built entirely by pick and shovel to overcome the barrier posed by the Allegheny Mountains, is an engineering marvel. The Horseshoe Curve National Historic Site is 5 miles from Reighard’s. The original Pennsylvania Railroad Shops and Railroaders’ Memorial Museum are about a mile away.

This placement has ultimately allowed Reighard’s to evolve with the times.

Before the days of self-service stations, motorists had to purchase cans of gasoline from pharmacies or blacksmith shops, which is what Reighard’s first opened as in 1909 — a blacksmith shop for the Baker Estate. Elias Baker was an early ironmaster. You can still visit Baker’s 1849 mansion, a stone’s throw away. A year after Henry Ford introduced the Model T, Reighard’s decided to make a change and operate solely as a gas station. Leaning into its access point on a railroad line, they had gasoline delivered via rail car consistently making them a popular ticket in town.

Fueling up here has become not just a local tradition, but also a bucket list stop for those exploring the Two Lane backroads of America.

While Reighard’s full-service hospitality allows you to remain in your vehicle, customers are encouraged to hop out and explore the main building constructed out of cinder blocks and concrete shingles, which date back to the steam engine era. Walk inside to find black and white photos of the station’s automotive history on the wall amongst other artifacts, like the original safe! Out back there’s a garage with 10 large wooden barn doors that used to hold horses being fitted for new shoes during its blacksmith days.

The hospitality doesn’t stop at the pump!

You got to give it up to the attendants standing strongly out in notoriously harsh Pennsylvania winters making sure people’s windshield are ice-free for the road ahead! Not only are they performing a job, but they’re also creating a customer experience.

They give free hot coffee to truckers as they wait for the diesel to pump. On special occasions, everyone gets a bag of local Benzel’s Pretzels. At Christmas, customers can expect a few gooey Mallo Cups, made just a short drive down the road, to be handed to them through the front window along with novelty wooden nickels or postcards. Dogs get treats every day!

More than 100 years later, Reighard’s has found a way to remain a thriving business thanks to fourth-generation petroleum distributor, Martin Oil, who purchased the business from the Reighard family once they retired in the 1980s. While ownership may have changed, the name and exceptional service have not. 

What we appreciate about places like Reighard’s are that they were one of many gas stations that helped create driving culture in America. Before apps did all the work, the only way you could get where you needed to go was by taking a map to a gas station to get directions. Businesses like this are proof that there are still a few places that haven’t disappeared with the times — that it’s possible to go back in time when you travel on Two Lanes.

For more of our top picks for Two Lane adventures in northeast America check out:
 
Erie, Pennsylvania
Cooperstown, New York 
Kancamagus Highway
 
FOLLOW @ontwolanes on Instagram

 

This Two Lanes Driver tee was designed after a 1930s motorcycle magazine picked out of Mike’s personal collection. American Made. SHOP MADE

21 Comments

21 thoughts on “Reighard’s — The Oldest Gas Station In America”

  1. Randy Kuhn

    Very cool article! Thanks for sharing. We are located in Northeast PA and have lived here all our lives and never knew the history of that towns Service Station.

  2. Ken & Suze Hall

    Enjoyed the piece on Reighard’s Service Station. If you are ever in or near Miamisburg, Ohio drop by to say howdy. Maybe have a cup of coffee. We don’t have any antiques per se, but do have some old things that would probably sell well in one of your shops. A few dozen phonograph records 78, 45, and vinyl 33. Dozens of Atari game cartridges and several consoles. A number of controllers for Atari consoles. None of these things have been used for many years. My Suze and I are both in our 80’s and can appreciate old stuff.

  3. Don Miller

    Really enjoy the history experiences and of renovation, preservation and nostalgia you bring to our attention. American Pickers is one of our (few) main watches. Thanks Mike, Frank and Danielle!

  4. Gary R. Faulkner

    Very nice. Sometimes the old way is still the best way. The world is moving to fast. We need to slow down and enjoy life, before it’s gone.

  5. Lisa Cooper

    Hi,
    Love what you guys do! Thanks for doing it! Saving rural America what a great legacy!
    Remember if you come across any FOUTS FORD memorabilia give me a shout out…please. My grandfather owned Fouts Ford and Tractor in downtown Indianapolis. Last time I emailed you said you would let me know if you found anything. Since that email We lost everything including family heirlooms in a house fire. So if you come across Fouts Ford sign, or anything let me know.
    Take care,
    Best,
    Lisa Cooper Minger Fouts
    Lisa300@live.com

  6. Bill

    Mike, the article on “The Oldest Gas Station in America” brings back memories. As a teenager in upstate “Snowbelt”, NY during the ’50s, my Dad & Uncles ran Richfield, Gulf, Atlantic and Sunoco Stations. I pumped gas and serviced cars in all of them. In addition to all the services listed above, we handed out Green Stamps, free maps and on occasion drinking glasses. I used to hate it when somebody brought their Packard in for a grease job, they had a gazillion fittings.

  7. Charles Lazan

    Love it! Having worked at Smith Meter in Erie, PA for 36 years I have always been fond of the early oil history in northwestern PA. Recognize the gas pump in the background with the glass top. In the early days customers wanted to ‘know’ that this clear gasoline stuff was being pumped into their tank…and not a bunch of air.

    Thanks guys for providing the history lessons and preserving our terrific past through your many venues. We can learn so much from our past.

  8. Walter Hawrylenko

    HELLO FROM CANDA BRITISH COLUMBIA.(Victoria)
    Great to see that you And Frank are trying to keep. America old and great.But here in Victoria old has to go.(sad to say).
    My wife and I bought a 1922 cottage on the beach.(fleming beach).
    We just tried to keep it original .Just like some of the places you have saved.All old furniture ,lights,ect.
    But old Victoria is going out,Many beautifull houses are being replaced by boxes .
    So keep up the good show going,you have a very good team,even Franks fits in .
    Your show has many fans here in Canada.I would invite you all but my old house is small.
    Also my wife &I are old and gray and starting to fade away.

  9. Laura Willey

    I wish there were more businesses like this. Good old fashioned values, care of/for customers and loyalty are disappearing faster than cars are driving these days. So happy to see this. I live in Delaware, so I’m only about 4 hrs from this place. My dad would get a big kick of this place. He’s a die-hard car guy. Keep on trucking Mike. Thanks for sharing. You rock! 🙂

  10. Michael S leitzel

    I did this when I was in high school at a service station in Elizabethville called west end garage. That was in the mid 90,s they have since taken the pumps out. I remember it like it was yesterday , if they said give me $5.00 in gas and cheek the oil that’s what you did , if they said fill it up , you put the fuel in ,aired up the tires, cheeked all the fluids, cleaned the windows, and wiped off all the lights.

  11. Joe Martin

    My dad and his brothers worked at this station in the 1920’s and 30’s. My parents left Altoona for Virginia in 1948 when I was two, but over the years I heard stories of their work there. It is good to hear the station is still alive and well.

  12. David Pokrywka

    Great story, New Milford, CT 06776 is the humble home of the first Volkswagen dealership in the United States.

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