Provo man has largest Petroliana collection in US


A local man’s hobby might just be your next date night. For a $5 entry fee, you can tour one of the nation’s, if not the world’s, largest Petroliana collections.

This is Lakeside Storage and Museum, where 85-year-old Sparky Sparks displays his collection of gas station memorabilia, including one of the world’s largest collections of gas station pole signs.

“I’m a picker. I’ve been picking since before that word was invented,” Sparky, owner of Lakeside Storage and Museum, said. “You just gotta sniff it out. It’s an art.”

Sparky said he is not a “Wall Street collector,” who will pay top dollar for a rare find. He prefers to hunt for desired items in unexpected locations.

“There’s backyard dent-and-ding collectors, which is what I am. I mean, we’re the white trash of the collectors,” Sparky said.

His collecting has taken him and his family on long road trips all across the country, and even beyond the borders.

“My wife and I drove all the way to Edmonton, Canada for that one. That is to hell and gone. It is so stinking far away,” Sparky said.

Sparky’s vast collection contains everything from signs and gas pumps to vintage cars and even airplanes.

“This stuff came from all over,” Sparky said.

He said he loves the people he meets collecting and the stories the signs tell.

“Part of it has to do with the story of where you got it.”

Sparky estimated his collection is worth about $1.5 million, but he sees his prized possessions as only barn roof patches.

“We all know that this is the biggest joke there ever was. I mean, who buys something from a company that’s out of business?” he said.

He and his wife are having a blast building a dual-purpose event center and museum for his collection. Sparky even likes to give his wife a ride on his forklift. They hope the event center and museum will be open by early summer for visitors to enjoy.

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