Big Chief Gas Station on HWY 550
Unlike many of the abandoned places in New Mexico, I actually remember when the Big Chief Gas Station was operational. Given its location on a busy section HWY 550 north of Bernalillo, it’s hard to imagine that they didn’t have enough business to stay open.
I’ll tell you this though…
Not the best public relations
I only ever stopped for gas at the Big Chief Station one time. When it was open, there was all kinds of fun stuff on the outside of the building, including a really cool antique Dr. Pepper sign. I was parked at a gas pump, planning to buy a full tank of gas plus snacks and drinks. I also wanted to grab a quick photo of the Dr. Pepper sign. Camera in hand, I made it about half way across the parking lot when the proprietor of the business burst through the doors like the Tasmanian devil. Arms flailing and screaming like a tornado, she informed me that I can’t take photos because we’re on the reservation.
Ok, I get that the gas station is on a reservation, BUT it’s a gas station that is clearly set up to attract tourist activity. This is not a private residence, church, or cemetery and since when does a Dr. Pepper sign constitute a sacred Native American artifact?
Needless to say, I left without buying anything and barely made it to Bernalillo on fumes.
Never went back.
Big Chief Gas Station now in the film industry
Some of you may recognize the Big Chief Gas Station Market from its appearance in the show, Breaking Bad. Jesse stops here in the motor home to buy gas & cigarettes and convinces the clerk to accept a dime bag of blue meth as payment. Later, Hank has the bright idea of reviewing the surveillance footage from the ATM in the parking lot to identify the make and model of the RV.
In other film news, from time to time my cousin works on movie sets and I recently found out that he is the one who repainted the “Big Chief” sign (in the photo above) for this location’s use in a movie.
These photos were taken on August 12, 2019.