Gas prices fall below $1 in one Michigan town

Sam Denaro, owner of Sam's Citgo in Swampscott, pumped a customer's gas.  The gas station was in a price war with Mike Gambale's Independent Oil Co. which had lowered prices to 46.9 cents a gallon. Both Sam's and Uva's Texaco across the street went to 47.9 cents in hopes of keeping customers.

Not since the 1970s has America seen $.47 gas, but one Michiagn station dropped its price to just that for a few hours on Sunday. Photo by Charles Dixon/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Plunging oil prices and a local bidding war drove gas prices to a low not witnessed since the 1970s in one central Michigan town Sunday.

Lucky drivers in Houghton Lake, Michigan, took advantage sub-$1 prices — and even sub-$.50 prices for a few hours at one station, the Beacon and Bridge Market where prices dropped to $.47 per gallon for unleaded regular gasoline on Sunday evening.

Other local northern Michigan stations were selling gas for as low as $.95 a gallon, almost half the national average of about $1.88 a gallon. A manager from a Marathon station in Houghton Lake said the price remained at $.95 a gallon for unleaded regular gas for about nine hours.

While the incredibly low gas prices did not last a full 24 hours — the stations were back up to $1.46 and $1.47 on Monday morning — local residents did take advantage of the low prices while they lasted. So much so that local police were called to direct traffic around the areas of U.S. 127 and M-55 as lines of cars piled up, waiting to fill up.

While the statewide average for gas hasn’t been below $1.75 since January 2009, gas prices have steadily been on the decline in the U.S. since the price of crude oil dropped to below $30 a barrel last week. A survey conducted by GasBuddy over the last 18 months shows that the national average of gas has gone from $3.58 to the current average of $1.88.

Gas prices could get even lower as Iran’s oil ministers have announced their plan to boost oil production and ship 500,000 barrels a day, a reaction to the U.S.’s lifting of economic sanctions against Iran.