Teapot Dome Gas station.
Today's Teapot Dome gas station.

Teapot Dome Gas Station

Field review by the editors.

Zillah, Washington

According to local lore, the creator of this handle-and-spout station, Jack Ainsworth, came up with the idea of a giant teapot one night in 1922 when he was drinking moonshine, playing cards, and talking politics with some friends. 1922 was the year of the Teapot Dome Scandal, named for the Teapot Dome oilfields that had been illegally leased by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior in exchange for a $100,000 bribe. Although Zillah, Washington, was nowhere near Teapot Dome, Ainsworth thought it would be funny to build a service station -- whose products come from oil -- in the shape of a teapot.

Teapot Dome Gas station.
Abandoned and neglected in 2009.

He built it himself, on a roadside property next to his dad's general store. The teapot was 14 feet wide, 13 feet high, and had a blinking light at the top of the lid. The handle was made of cement; the spout doubled as a chimney for the station's wood-burning stove.

Decades passed. In 1978 the teapot's door and windows were caved-in by a drunk's car, and had to be restored. Then the teapot, along with its outhouse and neon "GAS" sign, were moved a mile down the road to make way for the construction of Interstate 82.

Teapot Dome Gas station.
Early glory days of the Teapot.

In 1985, still pumping gas, the station was added to the National Register of Historic Places. It wasn't until 2004, after 82 years in business, that the Teapot Dome station finally shut down. The building was abandoned, peeling, and overgrown, losing a bit of its charm with each passing year.

Had Jack Ainsworth's rib-tickling teapot finally stopped being funny? No way! In 2012 the city of Zillah raised enough money to purchase, move, restore, and re-purpose the teapot into a tiny Visitor Center. Although no longer a gas station, the teapot had decorative vintage gas pumps installed out front -- to remind everyone that in its past it had something to do with petroleum, and a very old joke.

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Also see: World's Largest Teapot

Teapot Dome Gas Station

117 1st Ave., Zillah, WA
I-82 exit 52. Drive north a half-mile on Meyers Rd, which turns into 1st Ave. The Teapot will be on the left, in a little park across from the cemetery.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Church of God-ZillahChurch of God-Zillah, Zillah, WA - < 1 mi.
Totem Pole HouseTotem Pole House, Toppenish, WA - 3 mi.
Yakima Nation Museum and TeepeesYakima Nation Museum and Teepees, Toppenish, WA - 4 mi.
In the region:
Bull Sitting on Bench Photo Op, Ellensburg, WA - 43 mi.

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August 6, 2020

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