Frog Level Service Station
Located across Crab Orchard Road from the Museum Center, Frog Level Service Station was moved to its current site in 2011,
after more than 70 years at the junction of Crab Orchard Road and Rt. 16 - a place known as Frog Level.
Frog Level earned its unique name one spring night in 1933 when Jack Witten, Frog Level’s original documentarian, was fishing on Plum Creek with Sam Dillard and Jim McGuire. According to Witten, the men were heading for home when a fog rolled in and covered the entire area. The little frogs and bull frogs that resided in the creek began to croak with great enthusiasm, inspiring Witten to say to Dillard, “We could well call this ‘Frog Level.’” The name truly stuck when Witten began writing the “Frog Level News” column for the Clinch Valley News and the News Progress, relating various local incidents and tall tales. T.E. Bowling’s service station, located at that spot, was referred to as the Frog Level Service Station.
The 1932 service station was the last place in Virginia to hold a tavern license, allowing the sale of alcohol without the sale of food. Customers could put gas in their cars, pick up groceries, and enjoy a beer with friends all in the same place. T.E. “June” Bowling, Jr., the store’s proprietor and local legend, died in 2008 and the landmark building was scheduled to be torn down. Knowing the cultural importance of the Frog Level Service Station, Historic Crab Orchard Museum, the Rotary Club of Tazewell, and the Ratcliffe Foundation banded together to rescue the building and move it up the road to its current home on museum property.
Frog Level Yacht Club
The Frog Level Yacht Club was established in the 1980s by the regular gatherers at the Frog Level Service Station. As there was no significant water source nearby other than little Plum Creek, and no formal high society activities in the rural mountains of Southwest Virginia, they thought the fancy sounding name was a good joke. It was funny enough to create the “Frog-on-a-Barstool” logo, print hats and t-shirts, and sell them across the globe. There’s a FLYC shirt worn by someone on every continent, even Antarctica. When the famous racehorse Sea Biscuit was popular, the Yacht Club sponsored a local harness-racing filly and named her Miss Frog Biscuit. The frog jokes kept coming and more froggy stuff collected on the store shelves.
A New Home
In November 2009, Frog Level Service Station was loaded up and moved a mile and half up the road to Crab Orchard Museum. A community effort led by the museum, the Ratcliffe Foundation, and the Tazewell Rotary Club allowed the move and restoration this local cultural icon to be entirely privately funded. To ensure future maintenance of the building, Charter Membership of the official Frog Level Yacht Club was established with membership dues dedicated to supporting the building expenses.
A Grand Re-opening was held in October 2011 to celebrate June Bowling, the Yacht Club, and the legacy of Frog Level Service Station.
Frog Level Service Station Grand Re-opening, October 2011
Fun Times at Frog Level Service Station
Jack Witten's book containing the history and tall tales of Frog Level, as well as shirts and caps with the Yacht Club logo, are available in the Gift Shop.
Frog Level Service Station is not regularly open to visitors as an exhibit building, however it is accessible during special events, such as the Independence Day Celebration and Frontier Christmas. The building is also available to rent for private parties and events. For more information, please visit our Facility Rental page.