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Sagebrush Route Tour

Potapov's Service Station



5.35 -- Potapov's Service Station (west).

Another significant place along the road is Bill Potapov's (p'-TOP- off's) Service Station. Bill and his family came in 1943, and like those who preceded them, the press recognized their arrival and welcomed the newcomers: "Twin calves born at Wm. Potapor's [sic] ranch. Mr. P has just purchased the B. A. Freeny ranch, getting off to a flying start."

Bill was another one of those interesting characters attracted to Route 66. He dealt in Douglas gasoline, a popular brand of the 1950s. Customers would often pull into his station needing gasoline, or a minor repair, and the driver would be broke (this was before credit cards).

Bill had a big heart and often got stung when he advanced these people gasoline or services on the promise that they would return some day in the future. His solution was to secure something off of the car to act as collateral until the debt was paid--an automotive pawn shop, in effect. As a result his place was soon festooned with car radios, spare tires, bumpers and all manner of car parts.

Potapov's structures--the service station, two auto court buildings and a water tower--are among the most picturesque along the highway. They are excellent examples of Guy Wadsworth's style. Automobiles are often parked alongside the road in front of them as travelers try to penetrate the veil of time and solve the mystery of the stone buildings.

Within the recent past, the roof on one of the motel rooms and also the one on the main building collapsed. The fading sign out front can still barely be made out as "Bill's Service." Just north of the service station is a concrete slab. The slab does not look all that big, but Helendale resident Mirl Orebaugh remembers it as a fairly large garage that had stalls. In the back can be seen the remains of a barn that burned down. The rest rooms are still standing at the northwest corner of the lot. Just north of Potapov's is a slab which is all that is left of a lemonade stand.

This way-stop was quite a draw in the period when the Las Vegas traffic was at its height. Caravans of cars would stop and the place would get quite lively.

Oro Grande Underpass

Danny's Place

The Iron Hog

La Delta

End of the Trail

Elva's Malt Shop

Potapov's Service Station

Sage Brush Inn

White Orange Cafe & Motel

Watson's Richfield

Polly Gas

Helendale Store

Burden's Store & Post Office

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