Zadock Pratt Museum - "Millennium History Feature of the Month" 

Throughout the year 2000, we highlight interesting items from Prattsville history.  
This is Number 4 in our new feature series.   


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The Gas Station operated very well even when the roads were not built yet. 

May 2000 Feature  The O'Hara family gas station is 75 years old this year - the oldest one and the only one in town!!!

O'Hara gas station is unique not only because it's the only one in the whole town of Prattsville but also because it has seventy-five years of history behind it and has beaten all five competitors in the town!

The gas station was O�Hara�s family business. It was built by Tom�s grandfather in 1925. It was very brave of them to start a business like a gas station, as in those times the roads were not built yet, and of course not many people had cars. And, or course, they could operate the gas station only in the summers, as it was so hard to start the cars in the cold winter weather, so they didn�t have any customers. Later when Tom�s father took over the business the station was open the whole year.  

The O'Hara family is one of the oldest families in the Catskills. Also known for their old and pretty house as well as their business in the town. (The historic house will be the subject of another "2000 History Feature" in the next few months !) 

Tom O'Hara, whose grandchildren are running the gas station today, was born in 1928, in Ohio. His family is originally from Catskills; they lived in Ohio just for a couple years. O'Hara family moved back to Prattsville when Tom was three.

The station grew over the years, and it changed gas brands ... see below.  One small problem - being so close to the Schoharie Creek ... it gets flooded once every few years.

One of the floods we get every few years from the Schoharie Creek
O'Hara's service station in the 1979 major flood

Tom�s Dad used to call it The Elm Tree Service Station because of the huge elm tree that was right next to the station. 

People used to stop there for picnics.  It was a three-hundred-year- old tree, the biggest roadside tree in the whole of New York State. 
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The "biggest roadside elm tree" in New York State.

And though perhaps only a legend, the story persists that a local treaty was signed beneath the shade of this tree during the Revolution. 

The Prattsville Elm Tree was inspected, found hollow and officially removed in September of 1955.

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The O'Hara service station time-line:

PAN-AM Gasoline was the brand that Tom O'Hara's grandfather started the gas station with, in 1925.




Tom was a child when his dad ran the station and changed it to the Tydol brand. Tom was a teenager when   when the Gasoline brand was changed to Texaco. He helped his father in the gas station, sweeping the floors, keeping the place clean. Here's a 26-year-old Tom working for Esso. He took over the business after coming back from the Navy in December 1947. Also at this time, he married Betty, who helped run the  business for many years. In 1957, they switched the brand to Calso


After operating five years, CALSO changed its name to Chevron, which it is till now.

Tom O'Hara keeps collection of old trucks and gas station memorabillia.



About 70's Tom and Betty retired from the day-to-day running of the business


And starting from 1996-97 Kip and Kory O'Hara, Tom and Betty's grandsons,
started fully operating the gas station, which changed, in 1999, to the Coastal brand.


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O'Hara station as CALSO

Soon Tom took over the station. The gas station was doing very well, though it had five competitors in the town. Tom and Betty ran the station for many years.  Apart from selling gas and a variety of items, it also became a favorite gathering place for local people - to meet and chat.

And today, this is the only gas station that exists.  Now it�s operated by Tom and Betty O�Hara�s grandsons. 

I guess the story is going to repeat again and again!

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Our teenage website correspondent, Sona Grigoryan, is a 1999-2000 exchange with 
the Cernikovsky family.  Sona, from Yerevan, Armenia, attends high school and 
lives in New York City and Prattsville.  

Here she is interviewing Tom O'Hara at his home, in The Spring of 2000.  
Sona is writing a series of articles based on interviews with old-time residents, 
to capture glimpses of life in Prattsville in the 20th century.

The O�Hara family�s house story is coming up soon 
in this series of "2000 History Features".

Tom O'Hara meets our reporter, Sona Grigoryan

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Updated on:
21 February, 2019

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