This service station and restaurant was located north of Ames at the junction of Highway 69 and Riverside Road. Situated in the northeast corner, before one crosses the bridge over the Skunk River, the station served as a social center for much of rural north-Ames and Gilbert in the 1930s and 1940s.
1931 IDOT Map of Highway 69 north of Ames
It had its origin as a melon stand established around 1915 by W.P. Coon, an early settler who owned 80 acres of land on either side of the river. Later a permanent structure was built to replace the melon stand and became known as Coon Station. The low-lying land near the river was often referred to as Coon Hollow or Bottom-of-Hollow to distinguish it from the high land further south. In fact, a similar filling station/restaurant named Topahollow Inn was located on the ridge at what is now 3906 Dawes Drive, near Top-O-Hollow Road.
Pictured in Coon Station are Richard Fincham, Arnold Lande, Joel Jacobson, Norma Dodds, Irving Sonny Peterson, Donald Pauk, Jens Larsen, Ray Fincham, Cecilia (Hathaway) Rickerl, Art Sande, Dean Haukos, Maxine Jacobson Dodds, Bill Dodds, George Rickerl, Annabelle Peterson Rickerl, Bernadette (Hathaway) Rickerl, and Jim Dodds.
Inside the station were a lunch counter and booths that could accommodate about 20 people. At the back was a sofa, giving the place a very friendly and homey ambiance. The station was especially lively on Saturday nights. Many residents remember the soda fountain’s tasty ice cream supplied by Moore’s Dairy. Long lines would form during hot summer nights as patrons waited to purchase cones or hand-packed pints. A few grocery items were sold, and regular or ethyl gasoline was available at the pumps for about 30 cents a gallon. Those were the days! Various operators ran the business, including Dellivan or “Dilly” Willis and his wife Emma, Owen and Emma Meyers, Knut and Fern Johnson, and Earl and Blanche Connors. Operators lived at the back of the station.
From left, Owen Meyers, Emma Meyers, Emma's brother
Local farmer, Dick Fincham, remembers the time that Owen Meyers was extolling the merits of a fancy new fishing rod he was trying to sell to a customer. As he bent the pole to demonstrate its considerable flexibility, it broke, much to the astonishment of Owen and the customer. A great outburst of laughter erupted among onlookers; thereafter, Owen was never allowed to forget the incident.
The last owner of Coon Station was Bob Garland, who never re-opened it. His application for a permit to operate at the site as a fruit stand was denied by the Iowa Department of Transportation. This struck many farmers as rather ironic, since that was the original function at this location. Although the latest year of operation at Coon Station appears to be 1953, happy memories of gatherings there still linger among older residents.
(back to About Ames)