Things to see in Creston, Iowa
Phillips 66 station in Creston, Iowa
I was on my way into Creston to visit their collection of building art murals when I passed this old-style gas station along Highway 34. It’s a small cottage-style brick building with the trademark Phillips 66 gas station sign along with a couple of old-style gas pumps. As I pulled in, there’s also one of Iowa’s Freedom Rocks on the same site, so this is an easy two-for-one stop.
Address: 636 New York Ave, Creston, Iowa
This is one of the original Phillips 66 gas stations in Iowa and there’s a connection between Creston and the Phillips brothers who founded the Phillips Petroleum Company in Bartlesville, Oklahoma in 1917.
Frank Phillips was born in Nebraska but moved to Taylor County, Iowa where he was raised. At the age of 14, while in Creston, Frank became fascinated with becoming a barber. By the time he was 24, he owned all multiple barbershops in Creston. After marrying Jane Gibson, the daughter of a local banker, he eventually worked for his father-in-law selling bonds. However, in 1903 he took out his savings to follow an adventure at an oil rig in Oklahoma.
After hitting his first gusher, he called for his brother L.E., who was living in Creston, Iowa to join him. They went on to drill 81 straight gushers. Within the first ten years of the company, they became a $143 million enterprise.
So why the name Phillips 66? Of course, Phillips is from their last name, but why 66? After doing some digging online, it turns out that during road testing with a new fuel, the car was able to reach 66 miles per hour while traveling on Route 66.
As they expanded into other products, they eventually started opening filling stations across the country that were designed as small cottages, meant to blend into the neighborhood. In 1931, this station was built as one of the first Phillips 66 gas stations in Iowa. It was originally about a mile away and was moved to this location to serve as a local tourist center in 1994.
Right next door to the Phillips 66 station, you’ll spot the Union County Freedom Rock, created by Ray “Bubba” Sorenson. Each of Iowa’s 99 counties now has a Freedom Rock and the one in Creston was the 25th created.
The design features
- An eagle with the American flag
- Soldiers boarding the train at Creston Depot: Specifically, its the Rainbow Division, which trained in Creston before leaving for WWI.
- plumes of smoke from the attack at Pearl Harbor and helicopters flying over a dense, green jungle.
The rock was donated by the family of Dr. Robert Kuhl and is 8-feet long by 8-feet tall by 5-feet wide. Trinity Lutheran Church donated five, 20-foot flag poles where all five military flags are presented.
Another interesting note, the artist Bubba Sorenson was born in Creston. For more information on Iowa’s Freedom Rocks, please visit https://www.thefreedomrock.com/
Building Art Murals in Creston, Iowa
When high school student Tatelyn Schultz first contacted her art teacher Bailey Fry-Schnormeier, it started as a request to build perhaps one, maybe two building murals. It ended up being a summer of murals, with the creation of over 20 murals during the summer of 2020 – and it’s helping to put Creston in the spotlight.
Some of the murals are done in partnership with professional muralists, while others were completed by individual students. The program is formally known as “Mentor Mural Program” and is funded by a variety of sources including DECAT (Child Welfare Decategorization Program), Iowa Art Council, Conover Foundation, First National Bank and former Creston residents Jan and Karl Knock.
For a complete collection of the murals and a map to help you find them, visit the Public Art Page on CrestonArts.com
Very interesting history! Thank you Brian for researching this,