West End Service Station
Americans have always had a heart for adventure and exploration. The advent of the automobile kicked that up a notch, and by 1926 had fueled the development of a national system of roadways to build cross-country connections. The most endearing and iconic byway to emerge from this? Route 66, which debuted in 1926 and ran for more than 2,440 miles from Chicago to the West Coast shores just outside of Los Angeles. For decades, it cut a path through Edwardsville, bringing travelers from near and far. They were eager to explore, and they needed gas, tires and auto maintenance to do that. Luckily for them, the West End Service Station was here to meet their needs. It changed hands (and names) over the years, but it adhered to a simple goal -- to be the "home of friendly service."
From 1927 (one year after Route 66's debut) through 1964, around the time that Route 66 bypassed Edwardsville, the building at 620 St. Louis Street served as a fuel stop and service center. The building then became known for offering a different kind of service: dentistry. For the next 55 years it was a dental mainstay, housing numerous dental practices until 2019.
In 2022, the City of Edwardsville partnered with Great Rivers and Routes Tourism Bureau to purchase the building and restore this Route 66 landmark to map out the history of the iconic highway in Edwardsville. It opened in June 2023 as a Route 66 interpretive center to take visitors on a nostalgic trip back in time through the stories and photos from past decades. We're thrilled to showcase what we hope will be a revolving array of memorabilia! Great Rivers and Routes staff will be available to answer questions, provide details on other area Route 66 attractions and also show off the neat souvenirs available for purchase at the station. We hope you enjoy the station and welcome your suggestions!
Special thanks to Cheryl Eichar Jett, Edwardsville’s “Route 66 Chick” for information and details.
West End Service Station
WHERE: 620 St. Louis Street, Edwardsville (click for map)
HOURS: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday
Please note: At this time, there is no dedicated parking for the West End Service Station. Street parking is available in the area. A public lot is located south of the station at the site of the Route 66 monument and Experience Hub. We do offer a bike rack at the station for those who care to travel on two wheels. Please be respectful of nearby businesses and residential property. Thank you!
|1927||Edwardsville resident Henry Springer opens Springer's Madison Oil Co. at the site.|
|1936||New owners Robert Smith and Ralph Ladd change the name to the West End Service Station.|
|1939||Route 66 in Edwardsville is repaved; original station is demolished, replaced by the current structure.|
|1948||Local mechanics Henry "Hank" Dohle and Robert "Doc" Heidinger buy the West End Service Station.|
|1961||Ralph Ellison buys the site, renaming it Ralph's Mobil Service Station; it eventually outgrows the lot.|
|1964||Route 66 bypasses Edwardsville; the station is sold and becomes a dental practice until 2019.|
|2022||The City of Edwardsville, with the help of Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau, buys the site.|
|2023||The West End Service Station debuts in June as a Route 66 interpretive center!|