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Petrol Museum
Photo by Kyle Pozorski

History Of The Gas Station Industry


Story By Kyle Pozorski
Local News Published 08/02/2021 3:24AM, Last Updated 08/02/2021 3:27PM
Three Lakes -

The Northwoods is dotted with museums and historical sites all telling stories of the past. But one Three Lakes museum tells a different story about the way we travel to those sites. If you drive down Highway 45 past the Northwoods Petrol Museum, you might have wondered, what are all those gas station signs are for. The answer, downstream petrol or gas stations, which is the end product of the gas industry. The Northwoods Petrol Museum honors the legacy of gas stations.  

Owner, curator, and lifelong petrol industry enthusiast Ed Jacobsen said, "I've been interested in the petroleum industry my whole life. I've been in it since I was 14 years old and am still kind of in it here, and I've enjoyed every minute of it."

Jacobsen created the museum because he ran out of room at his home for his petroleum antiques and collectibles. His wife eventually told him to buy a building to house everything he has. 

"Well, this place is a celebration of the petroleum industry from 1899 on to today. I think it's the history value. I've always been an antique buff. My wife is too. We've always collected antiques of all kinds. And then I wound up specializing in the petroleum antiquities," Jacobsen said. 

Jacobsen says that the museum brings enjoyment to visitors who might have never had interest beforehand. "When they get in here, they seem to find an interest in the petroleum industry. They go by on the highway and say, 'What the heck is that? What are all those signs out there for? What's going on in there?' And they eventually come in, and believe it or not, the women seem to like it even more than the men."

The Petroleum Museum grounds allow for events, like the annual Three Lakes Car, Boat, and Motorcycle Show, coming up August 7. "Usually we have about 200 vehicles and we have boats and motorcycles, and trucks and cars and now this year we have tractors also. And so we'll have that right here on the grounds," Jacobsen said.

The Northwoods Petroleum Museum is open year-round, keeping the stories and history alive for ages to come.

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