The purpose of the Wood River Refinery History Museum shall be to accumulate, record, maintain and preserve in an orderly manner, information and material relative to the construction, growth and development of the Wood River Refinery and its influence in the surrounding community as a major employer and supplier of petroleum products; and the people who made it happen.
The Wood River Refinery (WRR) History Museum is located in front of the refinery, off the Illinois Route 111 frontage road in Roxana, Illinois. The Museum occupies three buildings that were originally part of the Shell Research Laboratory’s complex that was constructed between 1933-1971; the Museum’s buildings were constructed in the 1960s. Until 1976 Shell conducted its fuels and lubricants research here, with many resulting achievements including high octane aviation gasoline, multigrade motor oils, low lead gasoline, and high performance jet fuels.
The Museum’s Main Building was originally a prototype automobile diagnostic service facility that Shell had planned to duplicate throughout the country (only one was actually built and test marketed in Dearborn, Michigan). The concept was a six station facility which would test most major systems including engine, transmission, brakes, and front end alignment.
Next to the Main Building is a former garage for maintaining Research Laboratory test vehicles, which is now Building 2. On the opposite side of the garage is Building 3, a former dynamometer building which included a cold room for testing automobiles under varying environmental conditions, including temperatures from -40 °F to over 100 °F.
The WRR History Museum was established in 1986 by a small group of retirees – primarily Margaret Middlecoff, Andy Dick, and Lois Cooper – who used a trailer near the Main Office Building to sort, categorize, and store historical refinery artifacts. The Museum later relocated to the former Computer Room in the Main Office basement (see the About the Refinery’s 1960s page).
On October 5, 1992 the volunteers listed below began renovating the unused diagnostic facility previously described. Following countless hours of work the current Museum’s Main Building was completed in September 1993.
Wilma Jene Bond
Some of the Museum’s contents came directly from the refinery; many items were donated by employees. We welcome donated items and appreciate any time you are able to give us.