A New Generation of Whiting Gas Statons?

Well, maybe in the recent past but not anymore. Driving in eastern Arizona about a decade ago I discovered three modern Whiting gasoline stations in the towns of Payson, Show Low and Thatcher, Arizona. The signage with red letters on the yellow background harkened back to the good old days of the Whiting Brothers. I figured that this color combination was intentional and it was very nice to see. But these gasoline stations were simply branded Whiting, not Whiting Brothers.

As we Route 66 roadies know, a couple of decades after the interstate highways came to the West, the then-generation of company management decided to not continue expanding in the traveler service businesses and over a period of time sold or otherwise unwound their investments in gasoline stations, motels, and automobile dealerships. They decided at some point to focus their efforts on the lumber business. So I did some research and discovered Kaibab Industries which has an internet website. The website for Kaibab Industries described operating these three contemporary Whiting gasoline stations. An interesting point at that time was that Kaibab Industries numbered their three Whiting gasoline stations #182, #183, and #184. Numbering the Whiting Brothers gasoline stations was the standard practice during all but the very early years of the Whiting Brothers gas business and certainly through the halcyon days of Route 66. In fact I have encountered old telephone books that list the Whiting Brothers gasoline station(s) in town along with the station number assigned by the Whiting Brothers printed in the listing itself. Many paper promotional items from the old Whiting Brothers gasoline stations were stamped with both the station town and the station number. And since the numbers on the old Whiting Brothers gasoline stations likely ended around these series of numbers, the new numbers made some sense. I was able to confirm back then with Kaibab Industries, which indeed is managed by the second and third-generation of Whitings, that those three Whiting gas stations were intentionally given the family name and used the historical colors.

Whiting Gasoline at St. JohnsUnfortunately, that was then and this is now. Kaibab Industries left the lumber business long ago and sadly has closed these three newer Whiting gas stations. The only remaining business mentioned on their website is a shopping center in Payson, Arizona. Both the Payson and Show Low Whiting gas stations are now Giant gas stations. The buildings have been repainted with Giant's corporate colors. The Thatcher Whiting gas station is now a Shell gas station. (Coincidentally, the red and yellow colors of original Whiting Brothers gas stations and the more recent Whiting gas stations are similar to the Shell corporate colors.) So it appears that the idea of rejuvenating the Whiting name and colors for branded gasoline stations may be over. The retail gasoline business is known to be a tough business to be in.

But another business curiosity is pictured on the right. It is the Whiting Quick Stop on U.S. Highway 180 in St. Johns, Arizona. The city of St. Johns had the distinction of being the very first place that the Whiting Brothers sold gasoline in 1917. This particular business is a modern convenience store with associated gas pumps. At the time I took this photograph it sold the Fina brand of gasoline, a regional brand with some Route 66 significance that was principally sold from eastern Arizona through New Mexico and into the southern Midwestern states of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. (Fina, a Belgian company merged with Total, a French company, in 1999 and I believe that the American retail assets were then sold to ALON which may have re-branded the Fina gas stations but I am not sure.) This gasoline station may or may not be affiliated with a family member of the present generation of Whitings but the four original Whiting brothers could likely have many descendants in the region.