June 30, 2014

London wagon works


London is an old town.  Not by European standards, of course, but when you realize that it was founded only 33 years after Kentucky became a state (in 1792) you see that it has been around a while and seen many changes.

Because of my interest in the history of the area I enjoy looking at some present building and thinking about what used to sit in that particular spot.  I’ve seen a lot of changes in my own lifetime so when I read in Dyche’s history (1954) that something was located “where Scoville Court now stands” I knew exactly where that was even though that landmark is long gone.  Scoville Court (later the Town Center Motel) sat at the corner of Main and 9th Streets, the site now occupied by a parking lot famous for accommodating “the big skillet” during the Chicken Festival.

In the 1880s that was the site of a pond owned by C.B. Faris (Mr. Faris lived right down the street where the Dollar Store now stands.  When Dyche wrote about it in 1954 that same site was home to the first Kroger Store in London.)

But back to the pond.  When it froze in wintertime, Mr. Faris harvested the ice and stored it for use in the summer.  I cannot explain the process but it was a common practice of the time.  J. T. Brown and J. T. Williams also “put up” ice during the cold season of the year.

And then I read that in 1901 a stock company was organized to develop that same site and build a business called London Wagon Works “where Scoville Court is now” (Dyche’s “Laurel County History”, 1954).  I imagine local residents watching as the pond is filled in and the Wagon Works buildings take shape.  

Dyche wrote that the Wagon Works failed to develop into the vast industry visualized by its promoters though many prominent men of the community seem to have had an interest in the company.  He lists the following:  Rex Woodward, Mike Hope, George W. Brown, B. F. Metcalf, H. W. Brown, E. L. Farris, G. H. Brown, and later, D. L. Young, R. M. Jackson, W. H. Harkleroad, and W. H. Brown.

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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
B. Going to the beach!
C. Kentucky has a lot of wonderful state parks, and we plan to visit a few and enjoy quality family time.
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