Provo, UT — June 20, 2019
You don’t have to drive too far down the highway to notice dozens of license plates from states outside of the one your driving in. Americans love to travel, count me in that number. Covering NASCAR races at tracks across the country gives me an opportunity to see this great land and some of the unique sites it has to offer.
Every once in a while you can stumble across something truly remarkable just by taking the next turn or driving down the path less traveled. Such was the case on a recent trip out West.
You would think a guy who travels a lot in his job would want to avoid driving on vacation. Just fly to a destination, put the feet up, and relax. Nope. During NASCAR’s Father’s Day weekend break, it seemed a good time to schedule some personal time.
Driving to Utah for a family reunion of sorts, then stopping at some National Parks on the way back to Michigan. Lots to see between here and there. We reserved a campsite on the West side of Provo, Utah near Utah Lake for our stay in the area.
Right across the road was a large rental garage facility. The complex was huge. But it was also the most interesting storage facility I can remember encountering.
A Picker’s Paradise
American Pickers is a popular cable television show. Stars Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe roam towns looking for interesting collectibles to buy and resell in their retail shops. Automotive signage is a particular popular commodity they seek and frequently encounter.
Meet LaVorn Sparks, “Sparky” has a collection of “petroliana” that would make any pickers mouth water. Located at 4095 West Center Street in Provo, Lakeside Storage is the home of Sparky’s Gas and Oil Signage Museum.
Lakeside Storage contains the “World’s Largest” collection of automotive oil and gas pole signs.
What started with some old gasoline pumps LaVorn had kept around for a number of years turned into the predominant feature of his storage business. Growing exponentially, most of Sparky’s current display stock has been accumulated in the last four years.
Most of the display poles in the industry were used for scrap. Sparky recreates the poles and attaches the signage to display them in their original configuration.
The museum collection at Lakeside Storage continues to grow. Sparky has added more gas pumps, cars, a couple of airplanes, army tanks and troop carriers to go with his sign collection.
If you are ever in Utah, Provo is located about an hour south of Salt Lake City. It’s worth the 5-minute trip off of Interstate 15 to check out Lakeside Storage. Stop in the office and chat with Mandi, she will show you the gate and you can stroll through the displays. Awesome!
See Sparky describe his hobby in this video from 2016.