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Roanoke, Alabama: Gas Station Crudely Shaped Like An Elephant

Homemade 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.

820 Main St., Roanoke, AL
On the north side of Hwy 22/Main St. about a half-mile west of the intersection of Hwy 1. Between the Small Town Bank and the J.F. Market gas station.
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Visitor Tips and News About Gas Station Crudely Shaped Like An Elephant

Reports and tips from visitors and Roadside America mobile tipsters. Some tips may not be verified. Submit your own tip.

White elephant.

Gas Station Crudely Shaped Like An Elephant

We stopped by the White Elephant Center Shop, which looks to be out of business. It has two gas replica pumps and two little Bob's Big Boys out front, along with a bicycle. Cute space -- hope it gets reopened soon.

[EC, 05/13/2024]

Perhaps just closed the day you visited -- hard to believe that Big Boy would remain unmolested at a shuttered business.

White elephant.

Gas Station Crudely Shaped Like An Elephant

The building will soon be the White Elephant Coffee Shop.

[Ruth Sargent, 06/06/2022]

Elephant shaped gas station.

Elephant Gas Station

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!

Crude elephant.

Gas Station Crudely Shaped Like An Elephant

It's weird, but it's also really run down and full of trash and stray cats.

[Shannon Finck, 06/03/2013]
Gas Station Crudely Shaped Like An Elephant

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]

Nearby Offbeat Places

Rocky Brook Rocket TrainRocky Brook Rocket Train, Opelika, AL - 34 mi.
Monkey Park Monkey Cage: Fake MonkeysMonkey Park Monkey Cage: Fake Monkeys, Opelika, AL - 34 mi.
Rusty and the Iron FamilyRusty and the Iron Family, Valley, AL - 26 mi.
In the region:
Alabama-shaped Reflecting Pool, Anniston, AL - 44 mi.

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