by Michael Satterfield
The Station as it stands today
The Barnsdall Rio Grande service station was built in 1929 and is similar in style to a classic Richfield station just a few miles from my home just off Route 66 here in California, it should be since the same firm designed both. Constructed in the classic Spanish colonial revival style of its time, one design element that sets the station apart is the tall central tower, which was built to hold a 2,000 gallon water storage tank which provided pressurized water to the station. The station was so well designed that it received a beautification award from the Garden Club of Santa Barbara and the Montecito Roadside Committee. 

Now considered a side road, the station once sat on the main coastal highway, until the 101 bypassed it. The oil field that the gas station was on the edge of is famous itself, the Ellwood oil field was the site of the only attack on the mainland USA during World War II. of in February of 1942 when a lone Japanese submarine lobbed a shell onto the shores of Ellwood beach, the only attack on mainland American soil during World War II. 

On set of The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)
You might also notice that this gas station is the same one from the Jack Nicholson film, The Postman Always Rings Twice. 

A historic shot, the building in the background is the corporate office for the Barnsdall Oil Co.