SHELL TANKER CAR
IN THE 1920s, KEROSENE WAS MORE IN DEMAND THAN GASOLINE
The tanker was manufactured in 1922 for the purpose of hauling liquids. Toppenish in the 1920s did not have a lot of autos or tractors yet, nor did they have electricity. However, there was a need for kerosene for lighting. Oil companies such as Shell and Standard Oil would ship a tanker full of kerosene to a local independent distributor who, in turn would sell it to the general public. The distributor would deliver personally the 5 gallon can of kerosene much like the milk man of the day. He would pick up the empty and leave a full can on the porch.
This is how the car came to us. Volunteers helped paint and stencil the lettering.
Right: Loading docks for Shell Oil Tankers
Typical delivery trucks before the automobile caught on in the Yakima Valley. courtesy of J L Whitnall collection
Toward the 30s autos and trucks soon replaced horses. However it would be a while until electricity would be brought into the Yakima Valley. Kerosene distribution continued into the 40s until the completion of the Bonneville and Grand Coulee Dams.
To the right is the Teapot National Historic Site landmark, a gas station in Zillah WA a few miles north of the museum. Even though the gas station business is long gone, Zillah residents took pride in preserving their history by moving and refurbishing the building. The teapot now serves as a visitors center for the community of Zillah. Courtesy of the J L Whitnall collection