The first time I drove through the town of Dassel I immediately noticed the tiny little gas station on the north corner of First Street and Highway 12.
The building was built back in 1931 by Lewis (aka Louis) Belin. Lewis began operating the station with a lease from White Eagle Oil Corportation.
Lewis was a talented builder. After his brother Walter returned to Dassel in 1931, from working at a San Francisco Shipyard, to take over the running of the station, Lewis began working for Hogenson Construction Company building wooden grain elevators in North American locations. He was able to secure a good living for his wife Clara and their children.
Walter was visited by townspeople in his little station. Neighbors spoke of visiting him in the gas station, listening to the radio, petting his dog Trixie, and marveling at his cluttered roll top desk.
Lewis and Clara’s son Enus, born in 1925, enlisted at the beginnings of World War II, shipping out on the U.S.S Lindsey. He was killed on April 18, 1945, when his ship was attacked by Kamikaze pilots, two of the planes flying directly into the Lindsey.
Lewis himself worked until his 50s. In 1957 according to his grandson Dave Peterson he passed away soon after cashing his first social security check at the age of 65.
The station was closed in 1959. After passing through a few more owners the property was sold to Paul Lundeen in 1963. Paul blacktopped the lot surrounding the station and opened the property as a used car lot. And then some more owners; until eventually it was purchased at a public auction by Ken Skalberg and ultimately received by the Dassel Area Historical Society in 2001
Since then, the building has been historically restored, a pump procured for the front and is regularly the site of summer events, concerts, and ice cream socials.
I would enjoy seeing this building restored to an historical aspect of its time as the White Eagle Gas Station. I long to see Walter sitting at his paper cluttered roll top desk, hear the music and news from the radio sitting on the desktop, watch his sweet Springer Spaniel Trixie lolling in the sunny station doorway, and marvel at the eagles watching over our busy town.
Authors note. Lewis’s grandson Dave Peterson stopped into the history center with a replica of one of the eagles in 2002. He also donated many of the photos you see in this posting.