A major road construction project in 1932 created two intersections of highways 14 and 52 on opposite ends of Rochester. Before long, filling stations, diners and tourist cabins lined the new "beltline" highway. But at these two intersections, East Side Texaco and West Side Texaco sat like a pair of highway bookends.

When it was built in 1935, the flashing neon of West Side Texaco was the last sign of civilization seen by motorists traveling to Byron or Oronoco on a dark and stormy night. By the early 1940s, when Stephen DeVries took over operations, West Side Texaco was a landmark.

Claude Darst, along with his wife Betty, operated the attached Hi-Way Café when he was discharged from the Army in 1945 until they opened the Darst Modern Grill and Tap Room in downtown Rochester in 1948.

West Side Texaco would remain in operation, in all its art deco glory, into the 1960s.

That site today, at the intersection of Second Street Southwest and U.S. 52/14 is home to the Holiday Inn Express hotel. Contributed / Lee Hilgendorf
That site today, at the intersection of Second Street Southwest and U.S. 52/14 is home to the Holiday Inn Express hotel. Contributed / Lee Hilgendorf

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“Lens on History” is a weekly photo feature by Lee Hilgendorf, a volunteer at the History Center of Olmsted County.