1920 Oil Boom

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In the early 1920s, an odd and exciting event occurred in Jeffersontown -- an oil boom! Residents were astonished when one day a passerby discovered the smell of gasoline coming from the town well, which was located on Watterson Trail, near where the Victorian clock now stands. Some visitors from out of town needed to cool down their car's radiator with water from the well, but were wary to pour the unusual smelling liquid into it. They opted to pour some of it on the ground first and lit a match to it -- the 'water' burst into flames, thus setting off a fevered race for local residents to cash in on their 'oil find.' 

Twelve local men formed the Jeffersontown Oil Company and sold stock certificates at $2 a share. Soon, everyone wanted in on the find, and residents began selling their property to outsiders who hoped to strike it rich. Blasting ensued, and the town trustees, who realized early on that it was not oil, but gasoline leaking form a local underground gas tank, had enough and cancelled the "oil lease" to the town well and closed it off in 1922. That was not before J.H. Ellingsworth, however, created a petition to dissolve the town charter on the grounds that the property tax was too high; actually, he had discovered gasoline in his own well before it was found in the town well. Eventually, townsfolk came to realize the truth of the matter and gave up on both the "oil boom" and their desire to revoke the town charter