Baxter Springs Route 66 Visitor Center

As we continued our exploration of the brief section of Route 66 in Kansas during our October 2022 Kansas and Missouri trip, we came to the town of Baxter Springs, which had an interesting visitor center in an old Phillips 66 gas station.

Route 66 Visitor Center in Baxter Springs, Kansas

This gas station building in Baxter Springs was originally built by the Independent Oil and Gas Company in 1930, and then it was acquired by Phillips Petroleum later that year when the two companies merged. The building was intentionally designed to resemble a cottage. That design was popular at that time, as it was felt that the cottage gas stations looked more friendly and inviting than box-shaped stations or even just wooden shacks with gas pumps. Modern gas stations could learn a lot from that philosophy, I think.

Route 66 Visitor Center in Baxter Springs, Kansas

As you might guess from reading our other adventures along Route 66 in Kansas, the Baxter Springs visitor center was closed when we got there. But we had expected that, so it was all good. And nothing stopped us from having a look around outside, enjoying the interesting old pumps and cool architecture.

Ethyl gasoline pump at the Route 66 Visitor Center in Baxter Springs, Kansas

For all of you kids out there, which actually includes those around my age, they used to sell regular gasoline and Ethyl gasoline. Ethyl was a lead additive which would boost octane. But then lead was later found to cause lead poisoning, so Ethyl was phased out and unleaded gasoline was promoted. Ethyl gasoline would somewhat be equivalent to premium grade gasoline today. So there is your history lesson for today. Just in case you thought Ethyl was the name of the station owner’s grandmother or something like that.

Phillips 66 sign at the Route 66 Visitor Center in Baxter Springs, Kansas

The Phillips 66 sign still stands at the corner where this station is located. And yes, the Phillips 66 brand did get its name from Route 66, according to company legend. But they don’t actually sell gasoline there these days. You will have to go somewhere else for that.

A Classic Look

Black and white Ethyl Phillips 66 gas pump

Just for fun, I gave this photo the same look that I used for the Texaco photos from earlier in our evening. It turned out well, and I briefly considered going back and giving the above photos the same treatment. But I ultimately decided to leave them like you see them and include this photo as a bonus. Because why can’t you have it all?

Route 66 logo in the asphalt.

And for one more bonus photo, I liked how this Route 66 logo was stamped into the asphalt. Just in case we forgot where we were. I thought it was a nice touch.

After Dark

You might not be able to tell it from these photos, but we reached Baxter Springs well after sunset. Most would consider it practically dark by the time we were there. Fortunately, there was just enough light from the streetlights and such that I could adjust my camera settings and catch the available light.

It would have been nice to have been there during the daylight. And the sun would have given a different look to things. But that did not fit into our schedule for this trip, so we were happy to be able to be there at all. We did not complain at all about it being dark, or even about the sprinkles of rain that were still falling.

In life, you have the choice of complaining about everything or about enjoying what you have. And if you learn to do the latter, it makes life much more enjoyable, both for you and for those around you.

Choose contentment. It will be a blessing.

It is better to be content with what the eyes can see than for one’s heart always to crave more. This continual longing is futile—like chasing the wind. - Ecclesiastes 6:9

About the Photos

To work with the darkness above, I increased my camera’s ISO setting to ISO 640. This setting introduced a bit of noise, as it always does, but I feel that the noise works well with the style of these photos. The wide f/1.8 aperture of the Rokinon 35mm prime lens also helped, as it let in as much light as possible. If it were not for that aperture setting, I would have had to increase the ISO even more, use a tripod, or both. Darkness is a challenge in photography, but it can be overcome with a little practice.

Photo: Each photo is a single Raw exposure, processed in GIMP and Raw Therapee. Read more about photography tips, photo software, camera gear, and more at Steve’s Photography Tips.
Camera: Sony Alpha A7 II
Lens: Rokinon 35mm f/1.8
Date: October 10, 2022
Location: Baxter Springs, Kansas

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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.