Reflections: Oil boom and a ‘sleepy little town’


By Evelyn Long - Contributing Columnist

For the past two weeks I’ve reviewed effects of the 1964 oil boom on Morrow County and its communities. This week I will dwell on “A Sleepy Little Town,” how the oil boom affected Cardington and Mount Gilead.

The oil boom attracted a large amount of media attention. Reporters from newspapers, magazines, radio and television arrived in the county looking for stories. Articles on the boom were published in foreign countries, like Iran.

Daily newspapers in neighboring counties devoted regular columns to it. Many of those stories originating from Cardington or Mountt Gilead, described either community as a “Sleepy Little Town.” It was as if the writers and TV reporters were required to write or speak that three-word phrase. It was read or heard so often that many county residents grew tired of reading or hearing it.

For instance, in July, 1963, the Ohio Department of Development estimated that Cardington’s population at 1,662 and growing, up from the 1960 census of 1,613. Cardington Township, in the 1960 United States census, had a population of 2,328, making it the second most inhabited township in the county behind Gilead Township. Countywide, the population was 19,405 in 1960. Morrow County’s population was growing at an estimated annual rate of 2.3 percent.

With approximately 1,700 farms and more than 86 percent of the total land area in farms, Morrow County was largely agrarian in 1963. There was more than $12 million on deposit in the county’s banks. Per Capita income rose every year, long with effective buying income per household. A full 25 per cent of the county’s working adults was engaged in manufacturing.

There were eight producing wells in Cardington Township in July, 1963. The next month an aluminum products manufacturer opened for business on West Main Street in Cardington that eventually employed 25 people.

Further north, Northmor High School was being constructed and in Cardington a new addition was built onto the First United Methodist Church.

Also, in Cardington, a ZIP code was assigned by the post office and plans were being made to build a fire station and to convert the telephone exchange to the Direct-dial system in 1964. Residents elected a woman to serve on the village council, Mrs. Cecil Maxwell, a retired local business woman.

Cardington at the time was far from being “A Sleepy Little Town.”

Next week, the last in the oil series, when the many accidents will be described.

70 years ago, July, 1949: The office of Mayor Paul Richeson was moved to the second floor of the fire house from a rented room in C. Howard Conaway’s home on East Main Street. A balcony and music loft, with additional seating of 50 persons, were added to the Curl Mortuary.

60 years ago, July, 1959: Robert Mathews purchased the Sinclair Service Station on West Main Street from Bill Snyder, effective July 13.

Acting to reduce expenses, Cardington village council cut Mayor Lennie Russell’s salary by $500 to $1,000 annually. Council also abolished the offices of village marshal and street commissioner.

50 years ago, July 1969: Marilyn Radel of Cardngton, was earning money for college by working as a cook during the summer at Camp Ohio, the 4-H Camp in Licking County.

40 years ago: Cardington native Kevin Long joined the Fricke Realty as a real estate associate.

By Evelyn Long

Contributing Columnist

Reach us at

Reach us at