Rugby’s Prairie Village Museum will soon add a replica gas station to give visitors a glimpse of small-town life on the plains of North Dakota in the first half of the 20th century.
Museum director Shane Engeland said the exhibit was funded by a grant from Rugby’s Envision Cooperative and Cenex given before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2019 grant was $15,000. Half of the amount came from Envision Cooperative and Cenex before CoBank provided the other half to match their contribution. Former museum director Stephanie Steinke received a check for the contribution during a steak fry in July 2019.
Envision Cooperatives and Cenex are energy brands of CHS Inc.
Engeland, who took over the management of the museum earlier this year, said: “We raised funds and accumulated resources to try to build a small fictional gas station here so that we could move some of our most automotive-oriented items there.”
The project is one of many planned for 2022 for the museum. Other works include the completion of a facade for the museum’s front buildings and the creation of a pumpkin patch, which will open in October.
Sources of funding for the work include the 2019 grant from Cenex Cooperative/Envision and Cobank.
England has teamed up with the vice-chairman of the museum’s board, Steve Dockter, to begin work on the service station.
Dockter, who recently retired from his role as CEO of Rugby’s Envision Co-op, now devotes much of his time to projects on the grounds of the museum.
“We have a bunch of old cars,” said Dockter, who owns a classic car himself. “We have a lot of interesting things and we don’t have a gas station here. And every little town in North Dakota had a Farmers Union gas station when I was growing up.
“I just thought it would be a good representation for our business,” he said.
“We had funding available through the various foundations of which we were part”, he noted, adding funds for the project “were fairly easy to find.”
Engeland said of the project: “Ideally it will be a nice place to display our beautiful refurbished petrol pumps and have a canopy for people to park their vehicles under. They may have photo opportunities and make more use of some of the items we have.
“Petrol pumps are antiques“, he added. “They’ve been in front of our Lions building for a while now.”
Jon Proesch, the current CEO of Rugby Envision, said the company was happy to contribute funds to get the service station project off the ground.
“The cooperative system has been around for years and that’s what got all the farmers started,” he said. “Bringing back some of that history would be great for the museum.”
“It’s part of our history – the service stations and the fuel”, he added.
Dockter noted, “Rural communities can still apply for CHS core funds. That’s where some of it comes from (in the museum).
“I have an old horse-drawn tank car that I would like to have painted at the time. » Dockter talked about an article contributed with the help of Envision in the 1980s to celebrate North Dakota’s centennial. “That was what they used to deliver kerosene with a horse a long time ago.”
He said that many objects in the museum come from Envision. Some still carry Envision’s old name, Farmers Union Oil.
Dockter said of the gas pump display: “It will have the old Farmers Union symbol on it. They were all Farmers Union oil companies in the 1940s and 1950s at the time.
“Cenex wasn’t even a thing back then, even though they had Cenex-branded lubricants,” he added.
Dockter estimated that the gas pumps and display would be completed by fall.