Friday, February 23, 2018

What's a Wavaho?

For years I've been going to mom and dad's house in southeastern Huntsville on the same route--north from Pelham on I-65 until I reach the Alabama 36 exit in Hartselle. Then I follow 36 until it intersects with U.S. 231 and on into Huntsville. 

At the intersection of 36 and 231 is the Corner Quick Stop with gas and goodies. It's a Wavaho station, and I have often wondered about the history of this small company. I did a bit of research but haven't found much.

The Dun & Bradstreet site has a page for the Wavaho Oil Company that gives a few basic details. The company was founded in 1958, and annual revenue was listed as more than $6,700,000. Walter V. Hough was the name given as a contact and the phone number as 256-881-3621. A site has been crawled by the Internet Archive since 2001, but only a placeholder page was saved each time. The domain was registered in November 1999.

Perhaps one day I'll give them a call or stop by and try to learn a little more.

I find small operations that have survived in industries dominated by much bigger players to be fascinating. According to Google Maps, there are also Wavaho gas stations in Decatur, Huntsville and Pinson. Another one in Birmingham pops up on a Google search. If you know of others or more about the company, tell us in the comment section!

UPDATE on February 25, 2018:

An informant tells me that the company's name comes from the first two letters of the founder's name--Walter Van Hough.

Here's the office building facing Alabama 36 and just behind the gas station and store. 

That iconic sign appears in a couple of places. 

Source: Google Maps


  1. Glad to see that Wavaho stations are still around.
    I went to Elementary school back in the late 80's with a grandson of Mr. Walter Van Hough.
    Very nice family.
    Still a small company that keeps people coming back for more.

  2. The 3 names are separate last names from what I understand. I met a descendent of the Vann family. He mentioned his grandfather or father helped start it. But I too wanted to know if this was fact verse someone pulling my leg. Unfortunately, as you’ve said, there isn’t enough info out there to know. But the source, I had seemed reputable to me so I have believed the story of 3 people’s last names for years.

  3. Thanks so much for this information! That version is also a possibility...I guess I need to stop by their office and see if anyone there can confirm one version or another.

  4. Walter Vann Hough started Wavaho oil Company back in 1956. The original store is the one next to the office in Lacey's spring. The first two letters of each of his name's.. Walter Vann Hough make up Wavaho. The family has a Cherokee background hence the Indian logo. I would know I'm named after the man ;) I do not own Wavaho, but my dad and uncle do. They have continued the same business principles my Parents put in place where the people are first and then comes the business. Love your article. That's what Wavaho is!

    1. Thanks so much for this information which really answers the question in this blog post's title! And I'm glad you enjoyed the post...

  5. I have leased several locations from Wavaho in Guntersville, Decatur, Athens, Hazelgreen and Huntsville over the years. It's an old school company tightly run by two brothers with a strong emphasis on values and customer service. They have always been honest in my dealings with them.

  6. There's one in Athens next to the middle school (old high school)