Sunday, June 11, 2006

Venango County Gas Station Series Continues

Part 3: As population shrunk, so did number of gas stations
By the mid-1960s, small towns like Oil City and Franklin were feeling the effects of a shrinking local economy and a declining population.
As the two cities began to contract, so did many of the businesses that had thrived in small neighborhood settings. Hit the hardest were two of the more visible enterprises - neighborhood grocery stores and small gasoline stations.
From 1955 to 1965, Oil City lost about 10 of its filling stations, leaving the number at 21 in the city limits. Franklin, too, had fewer stations, dropping to 24 from 30 just a decade earlier.
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Part 4: The Redfield Family
The Redfield family has been in the gasoline filling station business for more than 50 years and shows no signs of easing back.
"My dad, Ansel, but everybody called him 'Red', started in the business in 1952 at Hank Malene's Quaker State station on Main Street in Oil City. And our family still owns and operates gas stations here," said his daughter, Rita Rodgers.
Redfield ran the Main Street station until a major city redevelopment effort resulted in razing most of the neighborhood in 1964.
Eyeing an up-and-coming part of the county, he moved to Cranberry Township and bought a gas station at the intersection of routes 257 and 322, site of the Kwik Fill station now. At the same time, he opened a filling station at the top of Seneca Hill, now quarters for McMahon's Insurance.
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