Beaver County

Art & History

Online Museum

Country Store on Dirt Road

Country store on dirt road. Sunday afternoon. Note the kerosene pump on the right and the gasoline pump on the left. Rough, unfinished timber posts have been used as supports for porch roof. Negro men are sitting on the porch. Brother of store owner stands in doorway. Gordonton, North Carolina (Library of Congress)

Beaver County Is Everywhere

Famed photojournalist Dorothea Lange is well known for documenting the Great Depression throughout America for the Farm Security Administration. But it seems she never visited Beaver County (most of the FSA images from here were taken by Jack Delano, John Vachon, and Arthur Rothstein).
However, Beaver County does “appear” in one of Lange’s most iconic photographs described as “Country store on dirt road, Gordonton, North Carolina, 1939.” Note the Texaco gasoline pump; it is most certainly a 10 gallon model 117 “Mae West” pump made by the Guarantee Liquid Measure Company of Rochester, Pa.
It’s not surprising that a gasoline pump made in Rochester, Pa can be found in rural North Carolina. The Guarantee Liquid Measure Co. aggressively marketed sales and distributorships across the country. As the two-page advert in “Motor Age” magazine shows, as early as 1920 the company was selling in eleven major cities as far as Texas, Minnesota, and California.
Note: The old pump in Lange’s photograph probably had a manufacturer’s label similar to the one on this restored 1931 pump, and to my knowledge Beaver Countians can see one of these early gasoline pumps at two of our local museums: