On a sunny day in mid October of 2020 I found myself traveling to Jasper, Tennessee along with my buddy Jay Farrell. Our reason for going on this trip? To explore and document a gas station in Jasper that has been abandoned since the late 60’s or early 70’s.
The trip down from Nashville was a pretty good one and fairly uneventful, and once we hit Jasper we began out hunt for the old gas station. Jasper is a curious town. One of the major industries appears to be selling some beautiful houses located on the most prominent mountain top in Jasper which is near Chattanooga. I wont lie, if I had the money and the wish to live in a small town, a house on the mountain would be a tempting choice.
The pandemic has struck here in the Chattanooga area, plenty of fast food places are open while a number of non chain businesses are shuttered. I hate to see this. But this is the time we are in.
We tooled around Jasper until we finally found the highway we were hunting for and directly we found ourselves pulling up in front of a pill box of a building with a two door garage attached and old fashioned analog fas pumps sitting out front like tow forgotten sentinels.
After parking and walking up on the concrete pillbox that had once been a lively gas station we easily found a way in, half the far left wall of the garage had fallen in. This was to be a hallmark of the old station. In the words of Stephen King Jasper’s Gas Station was a victim of “slippage”. Slippage is what happens to everything eventually. You see it everyday. It’s the natural order of decay that happens all around us but especially in places that are abandoned and or forgotten. In short the world has moved on but Jasper’s had not.
The collapsed wall allowed us to venture in and explore. Right off the bat exploration gold is sighted! A steel dinosaur of a car, a late 60’s Chevy Impala sat buried under debris. Whatever had led to this beauty ending up here was a mystery, but battle scars stood out upon it.
I spent quite some time documenting the Chevy, then moved on to see what else was to be found. To one side was an old drinking fountain and near the right fender of the Chevy was an ancient television. Those old consoles weighed a ton, their bodies were solid and made of actual wood. The main tube and assorted smaller tubes inside weren’t light either.
a bit further up was assorted old bottles and and well, junk, assorted stuff one might find in a gas station. But above the mechanic’s well was another vehicle from the past, this one meant for the water, not the road.
The boat had wings. Wings? Why? Were they just a design feature? Why was this dry docked here? Maybe the outboard had locked up, or maybe it was meant to just sit here for a week or two and instead this garage had become it’s home? Regardless of the why, I loved shooting it and am glad to have come across it.
Our forward progress into Jasper’s had hit a snag. More “slippage” had ocured, the floor that led into the office had collapsed just like the wall that allowed us to enter. The floor sat some 6 feet below the building’s foundation, a mess of wood, glass, tile and appliances. We had little choice but to backtrack the way we’d come in if we wanted to shoot anything in the office and even that was a bit questionable.
Jay and I made our way around to the right side and began to look around for an entry point but it quickly became apparent this was not going to happen. A narrow sidewalk sat on the side of the office that led to a bathroom (floor collapsed as well), and a house out back. It must have been a convenient set up for the owner of Jasper’s Gas being able to quickly walk to and from work. But that was then and today the house looked as much a storage unit as the garage had become. Looking through a window I was able to take a shots of what the office had been like. I only wish a few sunglasses still sat upon their display.
Walking away from the widow that showed us what had become of the office of Jasper’s gas I cam across the center plate of a Cadillac’s hubcap. I liked how it still shined in the shade, surrounded by ivy and glass.
It’s always a bit sad once an exploration is done. These trips and explorations are truly enjoyable. More often than not they end up as a bust, but that’s ok. Its the getting out there and doing them that makes it almost as valuable as finding buildings where slippage is still going on but has not yet laid a location to waste. Perhaps the best part is relaying these experiences to you, the reader.