Remembering Former Fuel Fillers Along Hixson Pike

Sunday, January 26, 2014 - by Harmon Jolley

Along Hixson Pike, from Gold Point Circle into Riverview, there are former service stations.  Their history spans the 1950’s through the 2000’s, and traces the suburbanization of Chattanooga towards Hixson and Dallas.  Since the day when the pumps were turned off, some of these buildings have been repurposed .  Others are awaiting their next purpose, and have been for some time. 

If you travel along Hixson Pike, you pass the sites of these former fuel fillers.  In their heyday, the price of gasoline ranged anywhere from the teens of cents to a few dollars per gallon.   Several once dispensed regular and high-test gas containing lead to curtail engine knocking.  Leaded gasoline was discontinued due to health concerns.  Most once had full-service attendants, while a few were built after self-service become the norm. 

Here’s your tour of the former gas stations of Hixson Pike.  Happy motoring down memory lane!

 

East side of Hixson Pike, near Thrasher Pike and next door to Armando’s – a former bait shop and gas station; now vacant

I don’t have the exact address of this former business.  It had a large parking lot, I assume, for customers to enter with trucks towing bass boats. 

 

5936 Hixson Pike (built in 1965) – Valleybrook Esso/Exxon, now Big Ridge Cleaners

Before the dry-cleaning business moved into this address, the building was significantly remodeled.  If one gets to go into the back portion, which I did last year in order to be measured for having a dress shirt altered, one sees part of the original service bay of Valleybrook Esso.

When it opened, the gas station had benefitted from customers of the new Valleybrook subdivision.  Much of north Hixson, however, was yet to be subdivided.  Hixson Pike was a two-lane roughly-paved road at the time that the station was built.

Richard Tallent was operator of the service station for many years.

 

5723 Hixson Pike (1991) – Uncle Joe’s Food Mart, now vacant

The intersection of Middle Valley Road and Hixson Pike once had an unusual alignment, with no traffic signal and frequent wrecks.  After that was addressed, it made this address more lucrative as a potential convenience store with gas pumps.  Enter Uncle Joe’s Food Mart, which I believe sold Shell gasoline.

Uncle Joe’s later became a Golden Gallon, subsequently acquired by the Pantry chain and operated as a Kangaroo convenience store.  After closing the store, Kangaroo used the building as an office, which was its most recent use.

 

5508 Hixson Pike (1980) – Hixson Pike Self-Serv

This station was built in the era of self-service only.  I recall that they sold the Phillips 66 brand at one time.  The signage advertised their main products – beer, gas, and food.

Some of the letters of other products have since disappeared, along with customers.  The building has been vacant and parking lot fenced for several years.

 

5500 Hixson Pike (1967) – Hixson Citgo, later Harmon Glass, but currently vacant

According to the city directory, this address long had a gas station with a used car lot next door.  Now, both business addresses are vacant.   After its days in the fuel business ended, the building had a few glass repair businesses as occupants.  One was Harmon Glass (no relation to me).

 

5211 Hixson Pike (1971) – Chevron, now Kleen-a-Matic Dry Cleaners

This building has been occupied by the dry-cleaning firm much longer than it was by Chevron.

 

5128 Hixson Pike (1969) Hixson American, now Hixson Transmission

I don’t have any specific information on this business.  So, I’ll use this as an opportunity to mention that this station, along with most of the aforementioned businesses, all were possible because of the 1950’s construction of the Hixson railroad viaduct and new section of Hixson Pike.  The new route was straighter and faster than the old one, which is still there and still heavily-traveled under the name “Old Hixson Pike.”

 

5111 Hixson Pike (1967) – Alfred Parrotte’s Hixson Shell,; later, Gilman Paint and other businesses; now a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop.

If you’re a new resident of Hixson, you may be surprised that this building was once a Shell station.  That’s because it was remodeled before Jimmy John’s baked their first sandwich bread there.  The former service bays were removed, and a new roof, brick veneer, and windows added. 

 

Northgate Mall (1972)  - J.C. Penney Auto Center; now Firestone

If you look at the entrance of the Firestone, you'll notice a concrete island where gas pumps were once installed.  That's because the J.C. Penney Auto Center sold gasoline during the first decade of North gate Mall.

J.C. Penney's corporate office decided to exit the auto service and tools business in 1983.  Firestone acquired the auto centers.  The Hixson Firestone relocated into the former Penney's site from their Highway 153 location across from Northgate.

Speaking of J.C. Penney's tool business at Northgate, it was once located on the first floor at the back of the store.  This explains the location of the mens' room, which was near the tools and lawn/garden shop.  That location is now oddly located in the middle of the ladies' lingerie section.  The store will soon close, according to recent news, and this bit of trivia will pass into the pages of history.

 

4041 Hixson Pike (1969) – Texaco, later a car stereo shop, used car dealers, and other businesses; currently vacant

4000 Hixson Pike (1960) – Highland Plaza Pure Oil; later Williamsburg Coach custom vans

3976 Hixson Pike (1969) – Highland Plaza Gulf

3875 Hixson Pike (1969) – Highland Plaza Shell; later, a liquor store; now vacant

These stations all benefitted from the traffic generated by the new Highland Plaza Shopping Center and later, K-Mart.  The March 15, 1972 opening of Northgate Mall drew customers and retailers away from Highland Plaza and the gas businesses suffered.

The Exxon station at 4004 Hixson Pike, built in 1969, continues in business today as a sole survivor of Highland Plaza’s service station era.

 1202 Hixson Pike (1930) - Shell; now Natural Body Spa and Shop

After this article was posted, a reader pointed out my omission of this service station.  Bill Gilliam operated the Shell station.  The reader went on to say, "Funny to get a massage in the old back bay of the place!"

1201 Hixson Pike (1957) – Esso; Amoco; Exxon – now occupied by the Farmer’s Daughter restaurant

This building followed a track similar to the Jimmy John’s, as it has recently been remodeled and occupied by the Farmer’s Daughter restaurant. 

 

I didn't snap photographs of all of these former fuel fillers.  Do you know how many looks one gets when one is taking pictures of an abandoned gas station?

If you have memories of any of these former fuel fillers of Hixson Pike, please send me an e-mail at jolleyh@bellsouth.net.  Maybe you had a carburetor repaired at one of them, or bought some whitewall tires.  Both are equally rare today; as rare as full-service gas stations, free air for the tires, free maps, and 19 cents per gallon gas.

I’ll update the article with some of your feedback.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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