A great story
about the original Beaver Dam station!
This story was written by Denis Prisbrey whose father built the original
Beaver Dam station.
Many thanks to Denis for the story and the pictures. I know many
were the first inhabitants of the gas station in Beaver Dam. My Dad
built the station in ’54 or ’55. I’m thinking it was probably ’55 since
the photos are labeled June of that year. From the pictures, it looks
like it may not have been open yet.
Dad ran the gas station and we lived in the back. I remember us going
out to look at the station when it was under construction. Dad would
hold me up and say ‘This is where we are going to live.’
“Conoco had the idea there’d be a huge business from traffic going and
coming between LA and Utah. This was long before the route through the
gorge on I-15 was ever dreamed of. It turned out not to be as lucrative
as expected and I found out years later that it was so bad my Grandpa in
St. George had helped out financially in meeting the terms that Conoco
“There was nothing but the station on our side of highway. There was a
bar across from the station and the lodge to the south was open and
running. I remember my dad walking across to the bar now and then when
things were slow. I don’t know if it was to have a drink or just
visit. Dad liked to talk to people and business wasn’t exactly booming.
would take me behind the lodge to fish in the Virgin River. He had a real pole and I had
stick with a nail and a piece of string tied to it. I didn’t catch
anything, but didn’t know any better and had a good time anyway. I
remember the outside of the lodge with the swimming pool. It was a
bustling place in the mid ‘50’s.
was born in ’52 and could not have been more than 3 years old when we
moved in. I recall quite a few things about the place, even at that
had a small lawn behind the south end of the station. Because of the
heat, Dad would mow the lawn at night after it had cooled down. That
required leaving an outdoor light on that attracted desert toads.
Usually, it ended up with Dad mowing toads along with the grass.
“Along with the lawn came the gophers. I can still see Dad on a kitchen
chair out by the lawn waiting to ‘pop’ one with his .22 pistol when it
day, Dad came back from somewhere with a local turtle in the back seat
of the car. It was on the floorboards jammed under the back of the
front seat to keep it from moving about. I played with it a bit until
it wandered off into the desert behind the station.
had a BIG (well, big to me at age 3) black German Sheppard named Pokey.
Pokey was my Mom’s adjunct baby sitter; anytime Pokey saw me heading
toward the highway in front of the station, he’d push me back if Mom
didn’t get to me first.
sort of circus truck came through one day and stopped for gas. First
elephant I ever saw. Did not smell good…
visit to my Grandparents in St. George, I got to drive the car up the
highway north of the bridge for a bit. The old trick of standing on the
seat in front of my Dad with my hands on the wheel, “driving” the car.
had bought a brand new ’55 Chevy truck while we were at the station. He
was very proud of it and told everybody it had a “Hydramatic
transmission”! I had no idea what a Hydramatic transmission was, but it
seemed important to him, so I just as proudly announced our truck had a
Hydramatic transmission too, whenever the truck was mentioned and he
wasn’t there to brag on it.
vaguely remember the outhouse at the old school in Littlefield. That
was a novel experience. A two-holer, I believe. I have no idea why I
was there at 3, but the fuzzy memory is still there. First impressions
can be strong ones and that was my introduction to the “Great
American Little Building Out Behind the Big Building”.
“There was an old lady in Littlefield. I don’t know how Mom knew her,
but I was parked there three or four times to be babysat. I can’t
bring back her name or her face, but I will never forget how the broken
up bread chunks in hot chocolate that she fed me tasted. Could never get
Mom to do that “recipe” for me, but the old lady did and I loved it.
had the ancestor of the Frisbee. When it was first introduced, it was
yellow and called a Pluto Platter. I used to play with it occasionally
when it cooled off in the evenings (relatively cool, that is). A buddy
of Dad’s named Roger, who was a traveling rep of some sort, was playing
with us one night and threw it up on top of the canopy. Thought it was
gone forever. Did not realize it was possible for a man to climb up
there. Roger saved the day by going up after it.
liked to catch and display tarantulas in Mason jars in the station
office for the tourists. I knocked one onto the floor one day, the jar
broke, the spider started in my direction and I ran outa that office so
fast I left a vapor trail!
remember Rob Reber. Rob was “200” years old, wore overalls, and would
come to visit with Dad. They’d sit in chairs out front under the
overhead canopy and drink Coke and talk about this, that and a couple of
the others things.
day I asked for a coke too. Rob solemnly told me Coke was bad for
little kids. He said he knew a boy who’d got too much Coke, had to have
his stomach removed and replaced with a paper bag. Scared the hell outa
me and I wouldn’t touch Coke for years after that
visited Beaver Dam in 1970 and again in 1976. Nothing was open. The
building that had the bar was long gone and the station and the lodge
were abandoned. I found a small enameled Conoco sign in the bay of the
station and took it with me. I still have it. I wandered around the
lodge. There was a huge safe lying on its side with the door busted
open. Underwear was scattered among some of the rooms and signs of kids
and parties. So sad to see.
"I'm trying to talk the wife into a weekend down
there. Maybe next Spring before it gets too hot to wander around a
born in St. George, but gone from the area for most of my life.
Too old anymore to take the heat in the summer.
It’d be a kick and a half to sleep in that old
lodge. I never got to see the inside when it was running. Dad said
several of the old Hollywood crowd would stay there. He got to
talk to Gable in St. George once, but he never mentioned anybody by name
at Beaver Dam.
If anyone has
information about the history of Beaver Dam or anything that you think
would be of interest, please email me with info and pictures that you
may have. Also any links where I can download information.
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