Now and then a small part of Route 66 appears in the seemingly most unlikely places. Soulsby Station in Mount Olive is one of those locations. Constructed in 1926, this station served travelers until 1991, when it finally closed. The fully restored station looks precisely the same as it did back in the day. When you come across it, it is easy to forget what year it is. Soulsby’ Shell is truly stepping back in time.
This station, like so many others in this area of the country, were located in neighborhoods, which today seems odd to us. When traveling the interstate, we’re used to exiting at the next off-ramp and pulling into a large gas station. These large stations often serve automobiles as well as large trucks. There will be plenty of pumps, quite probably a restaurant, and a convenience store, all of which are expedient, and all of which help us forget how things used to be.
These small cottage-style stations, like Soulsby’s Shell, were not run by large corporations, but by individuals and their families, often handed down from father to son. In those days uniformed attendants rushed out to fill your gas tank, wash your windshield, and check your oil. The stations themselves, an integral part of their neighborhoods, blended in with their surroundings harmoniously. The pitched roofs on the overhangs were designed to give a comforting and trusting feel by vaguely reminding you of home, and being in a neighborhood heightened that perception.
Unlike many of the stations, this one remained branded to a single oil company–Shell. The last recorded price on the gas pumps is 33-9/10 cents a gallon. I sure wish we could fill up here at Soulsby’s Shell!