Annual Antique Tractor Drive

This year on Saturday, September 22, the 5th Annual Antique Tractor Drive meandered through a lot of Patoka Township and my old stomping grounds.  For those of you not familiar with the group, each year they take their old tractors and do a drive through some historic parts of Pike County.  This year about thirty six drivers participated and three wagon loads of  onlookers rode along after meeting up at The Trading Post about 10 am.  I had to work and was unable to ride so Sherry Lamey shared the information and Terenda Wyant shared her photos with me for this post.

For this blog, I’m not going to use the road numbers now assigned but the names we always called them (and still do most times!).

Meeting up at the Trading Post.

The group started out down Hathaway Station Road to wind up at Ashby Cemetery as their first stop.  Ashby Cemetery sitting out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by land that is now coal mined was once a thriving little community.

Ashby was named after the family members of Benjamin and Margaret (Burdett) Ashby from Hampshire County, Virginia who settled there soon after they were married in 1813 after temporarily residing at White Oak Springs.  Their graves are located in Ashby Cemetery.  Benjamin died in 1881, Margaret in 1860.   Thomas English, a native of Vermont, taught in the pay schools  of Pike County.  His first school of this kind was in the Ashby neighborhood in the year of 1844.  Benjamin’s sons and grandsons became large landowners in the area and successful businessmen.  If I remember correctly the little Ashby Church was burned during an act of vandalism several years ago.  

Tractor drive

They then drove over to Scottsburg Road to wind up at New Liberty Church and Cemetery near Coe.

 Coe used to be called Arcadia and was laid off in 1869 by Simeon LeMasters.  I don’t know much about the history of this church and cemetery.  If anyone does, tell me about it in the comment section below.

Old Barns on the drive

Next they went across the road through the old South Fork areas and wound up on the Line Road.

 It is the Meridian used for old grid mapping systems that divided the county into the North and South sections, now it’s called Meridian instead of the Line Road.  Division Road divided the East and West.  Many of Pike County’s early settlers settled along the Line Road.  It runs through what is now the Patoka National Wildlife Refuge.

Wetlands

Patoka Grove Church was their next stop.    Other friends and neighbors joined them there for a dutch treat lunch by the Pike County Young Farmers in the churchyard.  Some guitar music, singing and fiddling was provided by Norb Wehr and Freddie Hopf from Dubois County and enjoyed by all.   You can read more about the history of Patoka Grove Church on this past blog post.

Patoka Grove Church and Williams Cemetery

Stopping at Patoka Grove Church and Williams Cemetery on the route.

Pike County Young Farmers lunch in the churchyard.

Picking and fiddling at Patoka Grove Church.

The group left Patoka Grove Church and wound their way down to Snakey Point.  You can read more about the history of Snakey Point on this past blog post.

Snakey Point and the Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge

The group then wound around on the old Winslow Oakland City Road, the one used before the Highway 64 was built and where the old community of Ingleton was located.  Like other old areas named for the families that lived there, some may have heard it called Whitman and Wiggs.  We’ll just say they wound around and came back up H Pit Road and stopped at the church again for a pit stop before heading back down # 7 Road to Muren Road and the old coal mining community of Muren.

In Muren they went past the old coal mine houses, one of which is featured at the top of my blog.  For more about Muren read these past blog posts.

A Winslow Auction and A Muren Reunion

My Grandma and the Early Years at Muren and Turkey Hill

Muren 2010 and 1965

Then they turned onto Ayrshire Road and went through the bottoms and around Kitchen Corners to the old Ingle Barn where only the silo stands today.  The Meyers family owns it now and has done a wonderful job of keeping it cleaned up and retaining some of it’s history.  They had their dad, Ab Meyers old tractor sitting there for the drive.  The house across the road is the one that David Ingle gave to his black butler and family and they became caretakers of the barns and property.

The silo of the old Ingle Barn remains.

They then turned into Logtown and rode past the remains of the old coke ovens down by the railroad tracks across from where the old Ayrshire store was.  The old beehive ovens are built in a row, double with ovens on the front and back.  For more history of Logtown see this blog post.

Logtown

After leaving Logtown they drove back down Ayrshire Road and over to where they started at the Trading Post.

Jim Capozella followed along in his truck to serve as aid if needed by anyone.

Ms. Burns of the Pike Central Digital Design and Visual Communications department came out and did the interviews with the drivers.  Their group helps put together the dvds.

DVDs are for sale of the historic tractor drives.  Not only is it the scenery, but inserted are interviews with folks telling of the history of these places.   If interested, let me know and I will try to put you in touch with the right person to order a copy.

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Where Is Big Red now?

Little girls were fascinated with the big coal machines too.  Especially those of us who grew up in coal mine country.   I read the enduring story of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel more than once at the school library and bookmobile.  Random facts on this timeless classic:   it was written in 1939,  has become a board game, a children’s movie and even a computer game. 

This photo was taken sometime around 1942 or 1943.  My friend, Kaye Walker, shared it with me.  It is of her mother, Phyllis Thompson, as a little girl standing in front of the coal shovel bucket.  Phyllis’s father worked at the mines, but we do not know which one this was.  Phyllis’s parents were Orvan and Mary Davis Thompson.  It’s hard not to appreciate this photo with it’s contrast of the dirty coal mine shovel and the sweetly smiling little girl in front of it.

Phyllis Thompson, 1942 or 1943

Phyllis Thompson, 1942 or 1943

My pops worked at Whirlpool until around 1966 when he broke his back at work.  He could no longer get hired at any of the local plants because of his back injury.  He didn’t sue.  He just worked at what he could on his own.  He started tearing down all of the old coal mine tipples around for the scrap metal and equipment he could sell.  He started pulling up railroad rail from the unused tracks that ran from the old mines to sell for scrap.   We grew up playing around the old mines.  We knew how to be careful of the dangers too.  Old shafts and rattlesnakes are just a few that come to mind.   

One of the few remaining old tipples in Coe, Old Ben.

One of the few remaining old tipples in Coe, Old Ben.

My dad always liked to pile us all up in the car and go for a drive.  One of our driving trips would be to the State Forest and then out of the State Forest from the fire tower to Highway 64.  This was all old strip mine.  Along it was an old highwall of sandstone that had numerous names and initials carved into it.   My dad’s older brother, Billy Joe Lynn, was killed in a car accident in 1969 at the age of twenty nine.  Billy Joe had carved his name in the highwall and dad always stopped there to look at it.  If I remember correctly, it was pretty large letters and must have taken quite some time to do.  Right up the road from this highwall, back in the spoil banks sat an old derelict steam shovel.  It had wooden sides and had been replaced years prior with something much more modern and left to rot.  My dad cut it up for scrap around 1970.  We climbed all over that thing.  We searched the spoil banks for fossils.  This photo of an old steam shovel my Pappa Evan’s had is similar to what that shovel looked like.  These photos were probably taken at Ingle #4 or #8.  Pappa worked at both.  The next photo Pappa had is of a more modern shovel from when the Electric Shovel Company took over.

Wooden Steam Shovel at Ingle #4 or #8

Wooden Steam Shovel at Ingle #4 or #8

Electric Shovel Company digger

Electric Shovel Company digger

I was always so thrilled when we were kids and we would drive out on Cato Road to watch Big Red work.  My obsession with Big Red continued for decades.  She was huge!  Her boom length was 200 feet.    She was put to work in 1961-62. 

Big Red Working in the Early 60s

Big Red working in the early 60s

I can remember in high school during the mid 70s when Big Red crossed over Highway 61 in Campbelltown to work on the other side of the highway.  They worked for months building a road for her to walk on.  My friends and I even skipped school that day to watch it.  And we weren’t the only ones!

Big Red in the background at Old Ben:Indiana Historical Society

Big Red in the background at Old Ben: Indiana Historical Society

I remember a few years ago taking the Senior Citizens out to watch the dragline go back across Highway 61 on the Petersburg side of the beltline.  I don’t think they shared my enthusiasm but they were always up for an outing.

What ever happened to Big Red?  Is she still at work out there in the middle of no where?  Did she get sold?  Did she finally use up her usefulness and is now recycled steel some where?  Where is Big Red now?