Original published in Alumni Magazine (WKU), Fall 1991. Posted with permission of the Alumni Association.


Bowling Green became the center of a five-county oil boom in the late-1910s. Two men working on construction of Western Kentucky University’s Potter Hall were determined to not be left out of the action. Architect William J. Bray and contractor Walter Brashear formed a syndicate to lease local land for oil exploration. In August 1920, WKU’s Board of Regents granted their company, The Great Arch Oil Company, exclusive rights to drill on the school’s farm. The majority of the company’s investors were school faculty and staff. Of the three wells drilled, only one showed promise and it was soon abandoned as oil prices plummeted and the boom went bust.


Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations | Higher Education | Natural Resource Economics

OilFebruary 2013104.jpg (1493 kB)
Image of a stock certificate in the Great Arch Oil Company that drilled on WKU’s property. Courtesy of Special Collections Library, WKU.