For 18 years, Rod Cooper tried to buy an early White Eagle Gas Station in Kanorado. For 18 years, the owner refused to sell. Finally, he agreed. Cooper moved the station (PDF) from Kanorado on a windy June 14, 2011 (PDF). The station now resides at 280 E. 17th Street, Goodland. The interior is not open to the public, but all respectful people are welcome to look in the windows and walk around the station and the exterior collections. To see this treasure, please park along Clark Avenue.
Waiting on a dream
On a trip to Denver, Cooper and his family visited the Molly Brown House Museum. After seeing the Brown house, Cooper decided he had to fix up an old house. “That put me in mind to fix up that old gas station in Kanorado,” he said.
That wish would be deferred for a long time.
About twice a year for 18 years, Cooper stopped at the old White Eagle Gas Station and asked about buying it. The owner always said no.
After all those years of trying, he visited the station when the owner’s daughter was present. She said, “He’ll never restore this building and it’ll fall down.” She said the station owner’s family was meeting that night.
After the meeting, the daughter called Cooper. Her father would sell the building at last. Then the work began. The building was in danger of collapse. One 2X4 board was all that prevented the building from caving in. “When you went inside, you could see the sky through the roof,” Cooper said. He had to spend “most every weekend” strengthening it and preventing it from collapsing.
The White Eagle Gas Station moves to Goodland
The next problem was finding someone to move the building. After Cooper had done much searching, Rex Smith recommended a company in Arriba, Colo. A couple months later, Cooper met the mover. The mover was sick with cancer, but he said, “I want to help you move this building before I die.” The mover fulfilled his promise. After their conversation, the mover underwent an operation to remove the cancer. When he had recovered, he and his boys came to Kanorado and loaded the gas station. He died about a year later.
Except for some repairs, the gas station’s exterior remains as it was originally. The Coopers restored the interior after talking with “old timers who had an idea about what it had looked like.” When the City of Goodland removed the original brick from Goodland’s streets, Cooper bought some of them. He and his family laid them for the driveways.
The gas station and its lot houses Cooper’s collection of petroliana, items relating to the petroleum industry.The station originally sold White Eagle brand products. White Eagle and directly related brands are in and around the station. The petroliana items unrelated to White Eagle brand are in the lot.
White Eagle Gasoline and Standard Oil’s successor companies
The Supreme Court forced Standard Oil to dissolve on May 15, 1911. White Eagle was one of Standard Oil’s successor companies. Nineteen years later, Standard Oil Company of New York (Socony) acquired White Eagle. The next year, 1931, Socony acquired Vacuum Oil Co. and changed its corporate name to Socony-Vacuum Corp. In 1966, the corporation became Mobil Oil Corporation. Mobil Oil merged with Exxon in 1998.
The station’s interior
Three collections come together inside the White Eagle Gas Station: Kanorado items, petroliana and tobacciana, collectibles relating to tobacco products.
The modern convenience store started in these small stations. Pick up items for your car, some smokes and something to eat and drink on the road.
The station’s exterior
Lubrication tools, a car lift and fuel tanks surround the station. The building was reserved for selling. Mechanics worked outside.
Cooper’s extensive collection of gas company signage is on the back of the lot. Feeling nostalgic for a defunct brand? It’s likely represented.
Preserved in stone
An arch, a bird bath and a cairn are placed around the lot. The arch is made from petrified wood. Cooper asked its owner if he could take away the arch. The owner said yes, “but if it falls apart, you have to clean it up!”
Visitors who are here when Crazy R’s Bar & Grill is open can see more of Cooper’s antique collection while they eat. Cooper and his children are pictured in the “History of the Opera House” mural at 10th and Main.