Service Stations Along US Highway 290

Pat's Chevron Sign One Mile West of Calera

Pat's Chevron Sign now Calera Chapel

  Pat's Chevron by Pat Brijalba Jr.

In 1962 US Highway 290 was still the main road through southern Reeves County. In 1935 290 had been routed to Austin instead of San Antonio.  Pat's Chevron depended on folks passing through.  Since there was no parts store in town. service stations stocked up on items like fan belts, radiator hoses, and tires for travelers in distress. Today we go to a filling station but back in the 60s they were called service stations , because you got service.  Along with a fill up you received a clean windshield, oil check, a quick look at your fan belt and radiator hoses and when requested tire pressure was checked. 

My father Pat Brijalba was born and raised in Reeves County and all he wanted to do was farm, which he did from a very early age till farming declined in 1960.   He bought the Chevron Service Station in Balmorhea. A farmer for some 30 years, it must have been hard for him to start a new career.  My brothers and I worked after school and on weekends. A large part of our business was travelers on Hwy 290, as it was for five other stations in Balmorhea.  Gasoline sales were important but we looked for other opportunities to sell other services.  If we failed to sell a fan belt or tire then our last resort was to sell the passerby a canvas water bag. Before the plastic water jug everyone has a canvas water bag.  The Braceros would drop their full bag in the ditch to keep their water cool.  We touted the taste of water from a canvas water bag and since their were long distances between towns it would be prudent to have water on hand.  It was not a large sale but it was a sale. 

Interstate 10 marked the decline of many communities along US Highway 290.  Unlike 290, Interstate 10 bypassed all communities, it was the end of an era.  My father ran the business for another twelve years, but it was never the same.


Canvas Water Bag still available for about Fifty Dollars

A transplanted farmer as a service station operator