The Petrified Wood Gas Station in Texas is a Slice of American History
Most of us would never imagine a petrified wood gas station.
Why would anyone think of that? Nearly 100 years ago, someone did.
Where is it? And can you see it?
Let’s check it out!
About the Petrified Wood Gas Station in Texas
In 1927, a man named E.F. Boydston built a gas station in Decatur, TX. He’d had a campground but decided to add a gas station, diner, and some cabins.
Boydston loved the look of rocks, and he was inspired after seeing a petrified wood park in South Dakota and a petrified wood gas station in Colorado. Petrified wood is any wood that’s been fossilized and gets a glassy look instead of decaying. No wonder Boydston wanted to set his gas station apart with it.
Boydston’s brother Nolan collected the petrified wood and mounted it on the exterior.
As interstates grew, drivers stopped less in small towns like Decatur. Business waned at the Petrified Wood Gas Station. The lunchroom closed in 1964, the cabins a decade later, then the gas station shut down in 1989.
New owners took over the diner in 1992, renaming it the Texas cafe. Insurance offices moved into the cabins. Boydston’s remaining family kept the gas station to use for their office. Boydston’s granddaughter did restoration work and applied for a historical marker.
In 1995, the National Park Service added the Petrified Wood Gas Station to the National Historic Registry.
Where Is the Petrified Wood Gas Station in Texas?
The Petrified Wood Gas Station is in Decatur, Texas, near the northeastern border of the state. It’s close to Fort Worth and Dallas.
As of 2020, Decatur’s population was around 7,000 with 8.5 acres of land. It’s generally hot there in the summer months. So you’ll want to either go when it’s cooler or be sure your car’s air conditioning is working.
Pro Tip: If you’re on a road trip through Texas, make sure to stop and eat at The Best BBQ in Texas for Your Next RV Road Trip.
What Else Is There To Do Near the Petrified Wood Gas Station?
The Wise County Heritage Museum is an excellent place to learn all about the region. The museum displays exhibits from many parts of history, including antique furniture, college memorabilia, and a photo archive. There’s a restored auditorium where the museum sometimes holds events such as sing-alongs and other musical shows.
The museum’s website is not frequently updated, so it’s best to call them for more information about events, visiting hours, and rates. The last update shows entry as $2 per adult, and the museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 AM to 3 PM.
Are There Other Petrified Wood Gas Stations?
There is also a petrified wood gas station in Lamar, Colorado, which may have inspired Boydston. The floors and walls are built of petrified wood estimated to be 175 million years old. Over the years, it’s become a tire shop and a used car dealership.
Best Hikes Near the Petrified Wood Gas Station
Lyndon B Johnson Grasslands Red Trail
This trail is a moderately-rated 8.8-mile hike near Alvord, Texas. You’ll see a lake and rolling grassland hills, but note there isn’t much shade.
The terrain features a lot of sand and red clay, both of which can be messy. The upside to the clay is that horses love it, and you’ll see plenty of them on the trail.
Your dog is welcome if It’s on a leash. However, be aware that they could get into muddy clay if it’s rained recently.
Lyndon B Johnson Grasslands Yellow Trail
This trail is 9.1 miles through abundant wildflowers and is suitable for all skill levels. Pine trees offer more shade than Red Trail, but there’s still a lot of sand and clay underfoot. Horses are popular here as well.
Dogs are welcome on Yellow Trail, too, as long as they’re on leashes. But prepare for sand and possible mud.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for more fun roadside attractions to see in Texas, make sure to stop by The Cathedral of Junk.
Best Camping Near the Petrified Wood Gas Station
Black Creek Lake Recreation Area
Located on the north shore of Black Creek Lake, this site offers dry camping for $10/night. They have vault restrooms, a picnic area, and a paved boat launch.
Reviewers say it’s peaceful and very clean, with campsites nestled under oak trees. There’s no gate to the campground, and you pay at a pay station.
Forest Road 904 Dispersed Camping
This is a free camping area for boondocking. It’s secluded and offers plenty of space for hiking, horseback riding, and fishing.
The sites are on a mesa and mostly level. Reviewers report plenty of sunlight for solar power and that most sites have fire rings. In addition, the roads in and out are well-maintained.
As always, please make sure their policies are up-to-date before visiting.
Is a Road Trip to the Petrified Wood Gas Station Worth It?
Yes, it’s a fun stop. You’ll see vintage America meet really, really vintage America in an unexpected way. If you’ll be in one of the bigger cities nearby, why not stop in Decatur for a bit of small-town history? It’s not a working gas station, but the fossils are spectacular!
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