Roanoke, Alabama: Gas Station Crudely Shaped Like An ElephantHomemade sculpted eye-catcher reported over the years as an elephant, or giant gnarly teeth, but started as a fake rocky sea cliff that eventually lost its lighthouse.
Visitor Tips and News About Gas Station Crudely Shaped Like An Elephant
All prior explanations here for the history of and meaning behind this building are completely wrong! They are mere guesses and hearsay.
I know exactly what it was; it was built as a rocky seaside cliff with a lighthouse on top. My granddaddy built it and my dad modified it. It was at an intersection on US Highway 22, known back then as the Florida Short Cut, which also ran through downtown Roanoke. Tourists would stop at the intersection stoplight, see the weird building, pull in to take pictures, and buy refreshments and fill up with gas. Granddaddy paid for the building with the tourist trade.
Over time the lighthouse on top leaked and was taken down. Then my Dad cut off part of south end of the building to make room for his used car operation next door, where he later built the first ever self-service gas station in Randolph County.
As the years passed, people forgot about the lighthouse and, in trying to figure out what the building was supposed to be, came up with the idea of an elephant. Hence the name "elephant service station." The new owner painted on the eye, further enhancing its image as an elephant.[Oliver Kitchens, 11/06/2014]
Old photos show it with a small replica lighthouse on top of the fake rocks. Thanks for the history lesson!
It's weird, but it's also really run down and full of trash and stray cats.[Shannon Finck, 06/03/2013]
The old service station was originally a dentist's office in the 1940s, and the structure represented a set of teeth, I'm told by a local. When converted to a service station, it was modified into an elephant, the mascot of the University of Alabama.[Bob Bell, 07/08/2012]
The title pretty much sums it up. Abandoned, crudely shaped elephant gas station. Worth a detour and next to an operating gas station if you need to make a pit stop.[Stephanie, 08/08/2010]
Awesome...a staple of my childhood. She's come down in stature and shape over the last couple decades, but the elephant gas station is still there![Alisha Yarbrough, 02/02/2010]