Hank Williams Memorial.

Hank Williams, Dead Here

Field review by the editors.

Oak Hill, West Virginia

Just before dawn on New Year's Day, 1953, a Cadillac pulled into the Pure Oil gas station on the south end of Oak Hill. In the back seat lay country music superstar Hank Williams, dead maybe an hour, probably from an accidental overdose of painkillers and alcohol. He had been on his way from Tennessee to Ohio to play a New Year's Day gig, but died some time after crossing the West Virginia state line; his driver hadn't noticed.

Years passed, and Hank Williams fans wanted to mark this spot for posterity. But local sentiment was fiercely against it. Oak Hill didn't want to be remembered as the death site of a boozer, even if that boozer was Hank Williams. Finally, after 50 years had passed, a group of private donors were allowed to erect a bronze plaque on a rock pedestal on the front lawn of the town library, across the street from the gas station. It features a raised portrait of Hank in his iconic cowboy hat, and mentions nothing of his death, but says that Oak Hill was where Hank "made his last stop on his last tour."

Hank Williams' fans also wanted to turn the derelict gas station into a museum. The town put an end to that idea by bulldozing the station in late 2006, leaving an empty lot to mark the spot.

Also see: Death Car | Funeral Site Statue | Astroturf Grave

Hank Williams, Dead Here

Oak Hill Public Library

Address:
611 Main St. W., Oak Hill, WV
Directions:
South edge of town. On the east side of Hwy 16/Main St. W., in front of the Oak Hill Public Library. Look for the flagpole and the concrete slab empty lot on the other side of the street.
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Nearby Offbeat Places

Skyline Drive-In: Hank's Last StopSkyline Drive-In: Hank's Last Stop, Hilltop, WV - 2 mi.
Coal Mining Ghost TownCoal Mining Ghost Town, Thurmond, WV - 4 mi.
Mystery HoleMystery Hole, Ansted, WV - 11 mi.
In the region:
Marker: Original Golden Delicious Apple Tree, Odessa, WV - 32 mi.

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May 23, 2017

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