Stations at a Virginia City station weren’t built for $4-a-gallon fuel |

Stations at a Virginia City station weren’t built for $4-a-gallon fuel

Dave Frank
Appeal Staff Writer

Early 20th-century cars sit on dirt roads in landscapes airbrushed on the windows and gas pumps of the Virginia City Station.

“Don’t even THINK about parking here,” reads a sign in front of the store’s garage.

People like the old-time feel of the city’s only gas station, said owner Madeline Reutzel, but high gas prices are forcing her to make at least one change in deference to modern times.

The prices on the old gas pumps are listed by the half gallon because the dials only go up to $3.99. Virginia City fuel prices tend to be higher than the state average, which this week was $4.15 a gallon for regular.

Reutzel is now waiting for $800 upgrades to each of the four pumps, but, for about another month, she’ll have to leave up signs and the “1/2” written in black marker next to the gallon label on the pumps.

The upgrades to the pumps will handle prices up to $9.99 a gallon.

The price per gallon was under $1.30 when Reutzel bought the gas station 15 years ago. She said she never expected prices to be over $4.40 a gallon for regular at her store.

She first had to make the change to half-gallon pricing about two weeks ago, and she knew before then she wouldn’t be able to pay the thousands of dollars it would cost for brand-new pumps.

But John Thistle, decked out in a Harley-Davidson T-shirt and Harley-Davidson belt buckle as he filled up his Ford pick-up truck on Wednesday at the station, said he likes coming there.

“It makes it so much nicer when you see the total,” he joked.

John Porter said he doesn’t have to worry about prices as much with his motorcycle and, when he went in to pay after filling up his vehicle that gets 47 miles to the gallon, told Reutzel he really liked “the sale you’re having.”

Petroleum Maintenance in Reno, which is putting in the new equipment at Virginia City Station’s pumps, is upgrading 18 pumps at six different rural stations, said Patti Meadows, office manager for the business.

Upgrades cost about $600 each, she said, where a brand new pump would cost between $7,000 and $10,000.

She said the business got its first call for upgrades on outdated machines in April. There’s a several-month delay to get parts for new order upgrades.

– Contact reporter Dave Frank at or 881-1212.