Gasoline Stations and Motels
No other gasoline retailer was so uniquely associated more with the western half of Route 66 than the Whiting Brothers. The Whiting family was principally engaged in the lumber business when the four Whiting brothers opened a machine shop and garage that sold gasoline in the town of St. Johns in eastern Arizona. Some references say that this business was opened in 1917 and some say 1921 but it was well before the advent of the numbered federal highway system that began in 1926. The brothers purchased the Ford Agency in Holbrook in 1927 (they added the Dodge Agency in 1935) and when they began selling gasoline they had their first station on Route 66. In 1933 they bought the Ford Agency in Winslow which led them to sell gasoline in Winslow too, and then on to Flagstaff and eventually all along Route 66 from the California desert to Shamrock, Texas. The main office of the Whiting Brothers enterprise was established on Hopi Drive (US Highway 66) in Holbrook. But their stations were not exclusive to Route 66. At their peak they had well over 100 gasoline stations from the border with Mexico north to Las Vegas and Utah and into southwestern Colorado, seven states in all.
Whiting Brothers gasoline cost a couple of pennies per gallon less ("Gas For Less") than the major branded gasoline marketed in their shared territory and so attracted budget-conscious motorists.
In addition to their gasoline stations the Whiting Brothers operated motels and the automobile dealerships cited above. Groceries were actually sold at several of their gasoline stations, a concept that seems far ahead of its time given today's proliferation of convenience stores that also sell gasoline.
As the two-lane federal highways in the Southwest were gradually replaced by four-lane Interstate highways the greatest demand for gas stations and overnight lodging moved to the new Interstate exits. The major gasoline companies and the corporate and franchise lodging companies built new facilities at the preferred freeway interchanges but the then-management of the Whiting Brothers were sometimes reluctant to do so. The remaining operations atrophied and eventually the individual businesses were sold or closed or razed. But even today the observant traveler can still find relics of the Whiting Brothers enterprises alongside the old roads of the Southwest.