Vintage gas pumps: a classical gas in Embudo

There’s something about vintage gas pumps that people love. Maybe it’s the designs or the bright colors. Maybe they are reminders of a time when gas prices were measured in cents not dollars. Whatever the reason the Classical Gas Museum in Embudo, NM attracts people from all over. We’d driven by it countless times, but never stopped. We always meant to, but you know how it is. You’re headed somewhere and just don’t have to time.

Vintage gas pumps :Classical Gas Museum, Embudo, NM photo Steve Collins

The Classical Gas Musuem, Embudo, NM has lots of reminders of a bygone era, photo/Steve Collins

Johnnie Meier, a former scientist at Los Alamos National Labs, opened the museum in 1997, with items he’d amassed over the previous ten years. He loves spending his time restoring old items ranging from vintage gas pumps to old stoves to juke boxes to old cars. “I’m particularly attracted to the gas pumps” he said,” because to me, they represent art and sculpture.”

Vintage gas pumps in front of the Classical Gas Museum photo Steve Collins

Old gas pumps stand in front of the Classical Gas Musuem, photo/ Steve Collins

Meier is currently restoring an old diner, made by Valentine Manufacturing Inc. of Wichita, Kansas in the 1950s.  He found it in a junk yard outside Santa Fe in 2006. He knew what it was the minute he saw it. It took three years to negotiate the sale and he’s been working on the restoration since the summer of 2011. He expects to have it done by the end of 2012. When fully restored, will be to be an ice cream parlor called “Eat Mo’ Ice Cream”.

Vintage pumps and a classic Valentine Diner at the Classical Gas Musuem photo Steve Collins

Meier is restoring this classic Valentine Diner from the 1950s photo/Steve Collins

Meier also sells found objects to artists, mostly sculptors, who incorporate them into their works. Another lucrative business over the last few years has been rentals for films, commercials and fashion shoots.  His treasures can be seen in No Country for Old Men and Wild Hogs, both filmed in New Mexico.

Vintage gas pumps in front of 1960s Texaco premium. photo Steve Collins

This now collectible Texaco gas station was a Christmas premium, photo/Steve Collins

While much of the vast collection is scattered around the grounds, there’s also a museum building  full of gas station memorabilia including old signs, tins, and even an old toy Texaco gas station from the 1960s, The miniature service station, a Christmas promotion, originally sold for $3.49. Today, it’s worth about 100 times that. It’s a valuable lesson in holding on to things. There’s also a collection of vintage neon signs dating back to the 1930s and 1940s “What we have here,” Meier said about the advertising collection, “is a gallery of 20th century commercial art.”

Vintage gas pump signs at the Classical Gas Museum photo Steve Collins

This neon Chevron Gas sign hangs on the museum’s wall photo/Steve Collins

Admission to the Classical Gas Museum is free. If he’s home, the museum is open. “It’s like a big open house here,” he says. “I’m here seven days a week from morning until the stars come out,” Meier said. “However, if I have to go to the hardware store or the lumber yard, I close the gated and go.” If you’re making a special trip, call ahead.  You can reach the Classical Gas Museum at (505) 852-2995. If you pass on the way by on NM Route 68, stop if he’s there. If he’s not, you can get some great vintage gas pump photos from the road.

Vintage gas pumps and more at the Classical Gas Museum photo Steve Collins

“Damn Fine Stuff” all over the place at the Classical Gas Museum photo/Steve Collins

Have you been to the Classical Gas Museum?

While you’re visiting the Gas Museum, treat yourself to a brisket burrito or a Sugar Burger at Sugar’s, a roadside stand just south of the Classical Gas Museum. They’re open seasonally, Thursday through Sunday.


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41 Responses to “Vintage gas pumps: a classical gas in Embudo”

  1. payje
    August 28, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    Woo! So glad you guys finally got the chance to stop there! I just love that place to pieces, it sort of represents how I imagine my yard looking someday. I guess I had better start collecting if I want something of that caliber though! Great pictures too.

    • Billie Frank
      August 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

      I’ll bet! That place has your name on it. Any other quirky places I’m missing in NM?

  2. Lane
    August 28, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    He has an old Valentine’s Diner? Excellent!

    • Billie Frank
      August 28, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

      We have a link to the Kansas Historical Society’s page on the diners in the post. It’s the one that says, “Valentine Manufacturing.” Goes right to them. What do you know about Valentine Diners? If you haven’t been here, it’s a MUST go. Can’t believe it took us all these years to get there.

  3. Donna Hull
    May 25, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

    What a cool sounding museum. We recently saw a homeowner in Stevensville, MT who has turned his garage into an old-time filling station. It’s really cute.

  4. Neva @ Retire for the Fun of it
    May 25, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

    I had better start a notebook of places to visit in New Mexico. Every time I read your posts, I’m drawn to the places you visit. These nostalgic gas pumps are amazing. Although being able to get gas when the gas station is closed, is a life saver more often than I’d like to reveal.

    • Billie Frank
      May 25, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

      Read the one about the Tinkertown Museum, one of my favorite places to visit. It’s so whimsical!

  5. Donna Janke
    May 26, 2014 at 12:57 am #

    This looks like an interesting place to visit. The photos made me smile. I love finding unusual museums.

  6. Nancie
    May 26, 2014 at 1:43 am #

    Love those gas pumps. I would love to try a Burritos and Sugar’s, too!

    • Billie Frank
      May 26, 2014 at 7:26 am #

      Sugars is great. We drove by yesterday, but we’d just had breakfast so no burritos. Next time.

  7. Irene S Levine
    May 26, 2014 at 5:18 am #

    What a fascinating collection! Looks like such a fun place to visit (and photograph)!

    • Billie Frank
      May 26, 2014 at 7:26 am #

      It is a fun place to visit and even to drive by,

  8. Michelle da Silva Richmond
    May 26, 2014 at 9:19 am #

    Cool collection and very cool story! Thank you!

  9. Michele Peterson
    May 26, 2014 at 9:40 am #

    I’ve never heard of this fascinating Classical Gas Museum but I’m sure that someone should open one on the Canadian prairies. The gas station was always a welcome sight for me when on a summer road trip as a kid. Not only was there lots to gawk at ..such as those vintage pumps.. but you could enjoy an icy root beer or orange crush and try to cool off as none of the cars we had ever had AC.

    • Billie Frank
      May 26, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

      I love old gas memorabilia. There also used to be one in Fort Collins, CO but it moved on. Maybe somewhere on the Canadian prairies you’ll unexpectedly encounter one.

  10. Carole Terwilliger Meyers
    May 26, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    I love these old gas pumps!

  11. Michelle
    May 26, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

    I haven’t been, but would love to go! I love the colors and would feel like I was going back in time. Great photos!

    • Billie Frank
      May 26, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

      It does feel like you’ve gone back in time. One of the reasons I love it.

  12. Anita @ No Particular Place To Go
    May 26, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    Very interesting! In our former lives before the travel bug hit us we were collectors and loved poking about various antique and memorabilia shops. I would love to see this place!

    • Billie Frank
      August 4, 2014 at 7:56 am #

      I used to love collecting, too. These days I have too much stuff and prices are too darned high.

  13. Dyanne@TravelnLass
    May 27, 2014 at 7:47 am #

    lol, those charming vintage gas pumps, uh… look a lot like ALL the gas pumps I encountered in Mongolia (which I might add, were exceedingly far and few between as well). 😉

    All that “damn fine stuff” looks more intriguing though – would love to spend a few hours poking around there…

    • Billie Frank
      May 27, 2014 at 8:04 am #

      And they’re still using them in Mongolia. That’s great. I miss those old pumps and great gas station signs.

  14. Suzanne Fluhr
    May 27, 2014 at 10:03 pm #

    This post about vintage gas pumps is making me feel — well, vintage. Back in the day, stopping at a gas station was such a bigger deal. My father almost always had the oil in our old Chevy’s checked and we just about always needed some.

    • Billie Frank
      May 30, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

      And the windows washed. That’s how they rolled in those days. And those frosty cokes in glass bottles in those big red coolers.

  15. Ursula Maxwell-Lewis
    May 28, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    Will the old diner be operational? I want a strawberry ice cream soda! The BC Truck Museum gius in our area would love The Classical Gas Museum. Actually – so would I!

    • Billie Frank
      May 30, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

      It’s supposed to be. I have to give him a call for an update. It’s truly an amazing place.

  16. Ursula Maxwell-Lewis
    May 28, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    Oh, dear – Neva – that should be Museum ‘guys’! Darn typos!

  17. Steve Shore
    June 29, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

    Looking for Dixie Gas globe

  18. joe s
    September 18, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    I stopped in the museum last week pasting by on my way back to NJ,wow i was shocked to see all that great stuff inside that small building,loved it all

    • Billie Frank
      September 20, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

      It is pretty amazing. Glad you got to see it!

  19. Mark
    September 21, 2015 at 11:51 am #

    My dad recently passed away and had a car lot he had an old gas pump restored and bolted down on a concrete slab I am in a different state trying to help my step mom remove that pump from the car lot she cannot find a way to get inside the pump it has four flat sides no both holes key locks nothing how do we get a panel off so we can get inside to unbolt it from the concrete slab if anybody can help me please do so thank you

    • Billie Frank
      September 22, 2015 at 3:28 pm #

      I hope someone reads this and replies. Perhaps if you contacted the Classical Gas Museum he could answer this question for you. Good luck.

  20. Stan
    September 8, 2017 at 7:10 am #

    Would love to plan a trip to Embudo, NM and visit your place. what are your hours?



    • Billie Frank
      September 8, 2017 at 9:39 am #

      That’s not our place- we just wrote about it. If you plan to go give him a call – he’s open when he’s there.


  1. Quirky places to see in Sante Fe, New Mexico | Quirky Traveller's Tales - September 22, 2012

    […] The Classical Gas Museum: There’s something about old gasoline pumps and gas station memorabilia that fascinates people. Maybe it’s the design, the vivid colors or the connection to the past, but they get people’s attention. We’ve been driving past this museum for years, always too rushed to stop. On a summer Sunday with a bit of time on our hands, we decided to check it out. Why did we wait so long? Gas pumps at Classical Gas Museum, Embudo – photo Steve Collins […]

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