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BenBow City, Illinois





Source: The New York Times, May 5, 1908
Benbow City, the flat town, which has grown up around the Standard Oil Company's new refinery, eight miles south of Alton, is the "wettest" town in Illinois, and because it is the wettest it is also the richest. It began its corporate existence as a village Monday with eighteen registered voters and twenty-three saloons. Within the corporate limits of Benbow City there are 300 persons and one saloon for each thirteen inhabitants. In addition to the twenty-three saloons there are seven brewery agencies, and each dram shop and each agency pays $500 a year license. Payments for the coming year have already been made, and the little village starts out in life with a $15,000 nest egg. The liquor interests have paid $50 for each man, woman, and child in the village, the per capita wealth of which by reason of this revenue from the liquor interests is greater than that of any town or city in the United States.

Founded by Amos Benbow, a 60 year old former school teacher who inherited land across from the new Wood River Refinery, Benbow City (first developed for the refinery workers) turned into a lawless town with mostly saloons and prostitution. It was incorporated in December 1907, and by 1917 the town was closed down. Benbow City was bounded on the west by railroad tracks, on the east by St. Louis Road and north to Penning.



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