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Arcadia, Oklahoma

Old Route 66 Filling Station

Along the historic Mother Road is an old gas station with a secret counterfeiting past. 

On the way to or from the neon-lit Pop’s 66 Soda Ranch along the old Route 66, there is a skeleton of a stone building on the north side of the road, just east of Arcadia. It’s not exactly clear how old the building is, but judging by its construction and original purpose, it was probably built around 1920. It was a filling station—the kind that once lined what is affectionately called the Mother Road. But this one harbors a secret: In its heyday, this tiny gas station was home to a small-time Oklahoma counterfeiter.

At least that’s the local backstory of the ramshackle old station, one that the building itself tells, printed on the plaque out front. The exact sources of the story are a little hazy, but the gist is that in the early 1930s, the height of the Great Depression, times were hard for small businesses, especially in rural farming communities like Arcadia. So when a man stopped by for a fill-up and offered the owner a set of currency plates, the owner saw dollar signs—or rather, 10-dollar signs.

They started printing $10 bills in the back of the station, passing them off to unsuspecting customers and even spending a few around town. The scheme didn’t last, and when the owner was caught trying to pass a bill the jig was up. The plates were found, and the gas station eventually closed.

The little station was typical for its time, selling regular gas, ethyl, kerosene, and motor oil. As it deteriorated over the years it was reduced to its stone pillars and masonry walls, with some affectionate graffiti inside (“Chris + Taylor”). Today, the building remains are strangely—and anonymously—tended to, with a well-stocked flower box decorating the front window.

Know Before You Go

Arcadia is just north of Oklahoma City, and the old filling station is located 3 miles east of town on the north side of Route 66, just west of Choctaw Road. (And it's a short drive over to Pop's.)

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