The original version of the following article by David Strange originally appeared in The Courier-Journal on 13 Dec 2011. David recently revised it as it now appears below. Enjoy!
In Shepherdsville, many years ago, there was a circle of ground in the middle of the road at the intersection of Buckman and Joe B. Hall Streets (then known as Main and Second Streets), where the original 1800’s courthouse once stood. After the old building was torn down around 1907, the town kept the roundabout, planted a tree in its place in the center of the circle, and eventually started decorating a Christmas tree there during the holidays for all to enjoy.
But I am told a story about a problem that arose one Christmas, that brought that tradition to an abrupt end.
As the story goes, one night the County Judge at the time had, shall we say, "partaken a bit too liberally of the holiday spirits." Driving down the main street of town, he failed to notice the brightly-decorated tree in the center of the intersection, and "plowed right through the middle of it." (Some have joked that he might have seen two trees and decided to go between them.)
Well, the next day the tree was officially declared a public hazard and cleared away. In fact, the entire little circle was eventually paved over and forgotten; the once-open corners of the intersection filled with buildings.
Now, I don't know which official it was for sure or what year, though I am guessing it must have been in the 1940's or perhaps well before. Certainly, a number of old-timers who I have asked about this story quickly grin slyly and say they could guess who it might have been. Bullitt County, as all counties, has had its share of colorful characters.
But can't you just imagine that scene, and how the public excuses would fly like so many dry pine needles in the wind?
With that, the first and only roundabout in Bullitt County at the time was gone, not to be considered again until roundabouts became popular once more in the 2000’s as a helpful traffic control design.
Have a Merry Christmas everyone, and a happy, happy holiday season.
But don't get too much into the "holiday spirits".
There might be one of those dangerous Christmas trees out there, just waiting to get you.
This photo of a 1909 flood in Shepherdsville shows the tree that had recently been planted in the center of the roundabout where the first courthouse had once stood. Old Salt River Bridge is seen in the background; Troutman's Mammoth Store is to the left; Maraman's Store is on the far right.
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