Marathon Petroleum Co. Celebrates 70 Years

Minnesota’s first refinery, now the Marathon Petroleum Co. refinery in St. Paul Park, Minn., which launched subsidiaries SuperAmerica gas stations and SuperMom’s bakery, is celebrating its 70 year anniversary, the Hastings Star Gazette reported.

The refinery, originally named the Northwestern Refining Company, began with 24 employees and an output of 1,000 barrels of oil per day in 1939. It was started by the Erickson brothers-Ivar, Herman, Godfrey, Joseph, Alfred, Arthur and Elmer-who realized a need for an immediately available supply of fuel in the Twin Cities area, and founded the Northwestern Refining Company by purchasing a bankrupt Texas refinery for $75,000 and relocating it to St. Paul Park.

In 1946, the Mississippi River barge terminal opened for operation and the refinery received its first shipment of six crude barges that May.

The Erickson brothers, founders of the refinery, aggressively expanded the company in the 50s and 60s, participating in an oil well in North Dakota, acquiring gas stations chains to sell its products and expanding the St. Paul Park refinery’s capacity from 16,000 barrels per day to 26,000 barrels per day.

In 1956 Northwestern purchased Oskey Brothers Company, which provided the company with North Star brand gasoline stations as an outlet for their products.

In the 1960s, the company began opening SuperAmerica gas stations in the 1960s, through which Northwestern distributed its brand-name gasoline. The first SuperAmerica station is a combination car wash/service station located in downtown St. Paul.

Trax Oil Company, a regional gasoline marketer with service stations in three states, was acquired in 1962, providing Northwestern with 17 additional stations.

Ashland Oil Inc. acquired the Northwestern Refining Company in 1970 along with the SuperAmerica, Trax, Webb and North Star brands.

The company forayed into food products as well. In 1975 SuperAmerica introduced fresh baked goods at a Milwaukee store. The concept was so successful that it prompted the company to add the offering to all the stores in the Milwaukee area and then in the Twin Cities. The company used the named the program SuperMom’s.

Ashland Petroleum Co. and Marathon Petroleum Co. merged in 1998 to form Marathon Ashland Petroleum, the sixth largest refining company in the U.S. The company operated seven refineries throughout the Midwest.Then, in 2005, Marathon Oil completed the buyout of Ashland Inc.’s minority share of Marathon Ashland Petroleum and changed the company’s name to Marathon Petroleum Co.

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