Home > Old School Picture of the Week > Filling station at Lafayette and Washington Streets in Ft. Wayne in the 1930s

Filling station at Lafayette and Washington Streets in Ft. Wayne in the 1930s

By Michael Summers


Fort Wayne Reader


The work of Jacobs and other Fort Wayne entrepreneurs went largely unnoticed in the car business because their work was under the hood. Sylvanus Bowser became the first local entrepreneur to a step out of the shadows through the importance of his invention: the first modern gasoline dispenser. The pump made Fort Wayne a world center of cutting-edge technology. Bowser himself was almost as legendary as the auto moguls of Auburn, Indianapolis or Detroit. Like Ford, he had a knack both for marketing and public relations. His Bowser pumps proclaimed his name up and down the Lincoln Highway, and his marketing catalogs reflected the high quality of workmanship that he motivated his staff to produce in all aspects of their work. Having become the pre-eminent leader in a rapidly growing field, the industry attracted competition by both Tokheim Corporation and Wayne Pump, both of which were also headquartered in Fort Wayne. The good times lasted for nearly a century, but as of 2005 there was no longer a gas pump manufacturer located here. Only their once fabled wealth is heralded in bronze plaques around town, where the civic generosity of Bowser, Tokheim, and Wayne Pump are etched and increasingly forgotten.

Excerpt from Allen County History Book essay “A Century of the Automobile in Allen County”

Photo courtesy of The History Center/Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society
302 East Berry Street, Fort Wayne, IN 46802
(260) 426-2882


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©2018 Fort Wayne Reader. All rights Reserved.