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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


From Encyclopedia Dubuque
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1955 advertisement. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Photo courtesy: Joseph Jacobsmeier

MOLO COMPANIES. In 1876 Hansen and Linehan began a fuel and steamboat supply business with offices on the levee. This developed into LINEHAN & MOLO with William S. MOLO as a partner. Molo came from New York in 1884. Employed as a manager at the A.Y.MCDONALD MANUFACTURING COMPANY, he later bought out Morrison Brothers Plumbing and Heating Division and operated his business at 472 Main St. He married Mary Linehan, Bart's younger sister. (1)

Linehan & Molo started selling coal from teams of horses and pioneered as contractors and plumbing and heating engineers. The company received through the patent office in Washington, D. C. a distinct and definite trade mark classification on all fuel they sold. Coal was advertised according to grades. The name designated the quality and was descriptive of the product. "Silver Gem" was one grade of Kentucky soft coal. "Ideal" was southern Illinois coal while "Universal" was another grade of soft coal for any purpose. Linehan and Molo was also the exclusive of coke, a by-product of coal, which carried the name "Vulcan." Every effort was made by the company to deliver within 24 hours. Trucks were washed every week and repainted annually. (2)

In succeeding years MOLO SAND AND GRAVEL COMPANY was opened for the sale of sand, gravel and building materials. The steamboat "Harriet" was purchased with several barges and dredges. Bart L. MOLO entered the business as head of the sand a gravel division. The plant located at the foot of Third Street was constructed in a way that thirty railroad cars could be handled daily with loading taking fifteen minutes from an automatic hopper. (3)

Harold E. Molo became the head of the plumbing and heating division. (4)

In 1926, Linehan & Molo moved to a new location on 5th St. between Main and Iowa. In February 1928, Molo Oil Company was formed to sell petroleum products. (5) A large fleet of company-owned trucks was operated.

Molo Oil Company advertised Sinclair Aircraft Gasoline in 1929 for those having problems starting their cars. As advertised the gasoline was "made to meet Army and Navy specifications for aviation gasoline--domestic grade." The company also advertised its "Greasing Palace" at Fifth and Locust was heated. (6)

Advertising their Sinclair oils (associated since 1927 with Atlantic-Richfield) in 1937 meant leaving them outside. Customers could see for themselves that the oil being added to the crank-case during the winter was not thick or stiff. Molo advertising assured consumers that using Sinclair Pennsylvania or Sinclair Opaline Motor Oil prevented this with a "de-jellying" process that removed the cause of the problem. Drivers were asked to come to the Super-Service Station and 5th and Locust to have their car's old oil drained and replaced. (7)

Due to government regulations, service stations during WORLD WAR II could not stay open more than 72 hours weekly. Molo Oil responded in 1943 by advertising the hours its three stations--5th and Locust, 14th and Central, and Delhi and Gilliam--would be open. (8)

In 1948, Harold Molo became President of Molo Companies. In that year, Molo Oil Companies advertised its one-half million gallon storage and twelve tank trucks could assure customers of a continuous supply of fuel. (9) In 1951, his son, Robert E. MOLO joined the family business. Robert's major interests were directed toward the sand and gravel and oil businesses. Molo Oil began supplying fuel oil to home owners and gasoline to 22 area service stations in 1968.

Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald
Photo courtesy: Mike Avitt

The company was the first in Dubuque to offer the Weaver Twin Post Lift "assuring you of an absolute 100% lubrication job. (10) In 1960 the Molo Oil Company advertised as a "first" its free of charge removal of ice and snow under the car's fenders with every wash or lubrication at the company's Super Service Station. (11)

In 1970, Harold Molo passed away, leaving the presidency of the Molo Companies to Robert. During the decade, the Company expanded further into Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin.


The 1980s was an era of growth and change for the Molo Companies, with the help of Mark Molo, Bob's son, who became Vice President. It was also the beginning of the Big 10 Mart's - convenience stores developed and owned by Molo Oil Co.

In 1993 Molo Oil Company advertised its supply of gasolines, fuel oil, diesel, kerosene, and racing gas. In addition the company carried a full line of 76 lubricants; case goods; five gallon pails; 15, 30 and 655 gallon drums; bulk products, oils, greases, and gear lubes. (12)

In 1998, Robert Molo passed away, Mark Molo became the president of the Molo Companies. The ready-mix business was sold in the early 2000s, but the company began making annual acquisitions related to its core business--fuel and energy supply. (13)

The 1934 Dubuque City Directory listed the bulk plant on E 3rd and a station at 498 Locust.

The 1939 Dubuque City Directory listed a station at 135 W. 5th.

The 1942 Dubuque Classified Business Directory listed 2490 University for a tire dealership.

The 1957 Dubuque City Directory listed stations at 1403 Central, 665 Dodge, and 1545 S. Grandview.

In 1959 through 1964 the Dubuque City Directory listed 135 W. 5th.

The 1970 through 1985 Dubuque City Directory listed 41 Main.

The 1987 through 1989 Dubuque City Directory listed 123 Southern and 395 E. Third.

The 1993 Dubuque City Directory listed 123 Southern.



1. "The Vanguard Today," Telegraph-Herald, August 14, 1938, p. 81

2. "Linehan and Molo is Fifty Years Old," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, August 24, 1930, p. 28 3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Advertisement. Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, November 24, 1929, p. 13

7. "Sinclair Oils Don't Get Thick in Zero Weather," Telegraph-Herald, January 24, 1937, p. 2

8. Advertisement. Telegraph-Herald, February 28, 1943, p. 8

9. Advertisement. Telegraph-Herald, September 26, 1948, p. 7

10. Advertisement. The Telegraph Herald, May 19, 1935, p. 7

11. Advertisement. The Telegraph Herald, March 21, 1960, p. 20

12. Advertisement. Telegraph Herald, March 23, 1993, p. 26

13. Hogstrom, Erik, "For 150 Years, Diversification Energizes Molo," Telegraph Herald, August 23, 2020, p. 1E

Molo Company website