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Zillah Teapot Dome

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Zillah Teapot Dome
Zillah, Washington 98953
Voice: 509-829-5151

The Real Story

Government scandal and "creative juices" were behind the creation of this 15-foot handled-and-spouted gas station. It began one night in 1922. Jack Ainsworth of Zillah, was drinking moonshine, playing cards and talking politics with a group of spirited friends.

President Warren G. Harding had ordered control of Naval oil reserves at Teapot Dome, WY., and Elk Hill, CA, transferred from the Navy to the Department of the Interior in late 1921. A few months later, Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall leased, without competitive bidding, the Teapot Dome fields to an oil operator named Henry Sinclair, and the fields of Elk Hills to a man named Edward L. Doheny.

The Senate investigated the transactions and found that Fall had been "lent" a large amount of money by both Sinclair and Doheny. In one of the loans, Doheny had given Fall $100,000 without charging interest. Fall was indicted for conspiracy and for accepting bribes. He was convicted of the latter charge, sentenced to a year in prison and fined $100,000.

Sinclair was later sentenced to prison for contempt of the Senate and for employing detectives to shadow members of the jury in the case. Ainsworth created his Teapot Memorial gas station during the trials. The oil fields were restored to the government through a supreme court decision in 1927, but the Teapot Dome gas station continues to operate about 15 miles southeast of Yakima on Interstate 82.

It is said to be one of the oldest functioning gas stations in the United States, and is listed on the National Register of Historical Places.

A Special note to all of those that have followed the Zillah Teapot Dome. They have moved this historical building and restored it. We are proud to have helped in the movement of this building. We will go out this spring and retake some images of it and share them with you.



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