Trip Peek #43
Trip #108
LH Centennial Kick Off

pv86This picture is from my 2012 LH Centennial Kick Off trip. On September 10, 1912, a meeting was held in Indianapolis, Indiana, which would ultimately result in the formation of the Lincoln Highway Association. The LHA was incorporated on July 1, 1913, and a big party was planned for the upcoming centennial so why not celebrate the centennial of the get together that started it all. Although they couldn’t quite match the date, that is essentially what the Indiana Chapter of the LHA did and I was there. The 2012 event was held on September 22 in the same building as the 1912 event with an actor playing the role of Carl Fisher, the man who called that first meeting. In addition to the “reenactment” at Das Deutshe Haus, we got to visit several historic automotive related sites in Indianapolis.


Trip Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the associated trip journal.

ACDs Seen

acds01Three of America’s most revered marques of the early twentieth century were manufactured in Auburn, Indiana, and the town celebrates that fact every year. The 2016 Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival is the sixtieth. It has been going on for over a week but is almost over with the wrap-up taking place today. I have thought of attending the festival for a long time but a recent Dennis Horvath blog post reminded me of just how big the event is and got me to seriously thinking about finally making it there this year. Tentative plans for other Labor Day Weekend activities kept attendance from being a certainty but both schedule and skies were clear when the weekend actually got here so Friday morning I headed toward northern Indiana.

acds02acds03acds04I reached Auburn during staging for the Factory Test Route Tour. The pair of Cords pictured at the top of this post formed the front row and another Cord sat in the rear. I walked to just beyond the police motorcycle escort then watched the group set off to follow the twenty-eight mile course that the Auburn Automobile Company once used to test new cars.

acds07acds06acds05Of course the tour’s start point was the company’s headquarters which is now the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum. Window shoppers can easily identify at least some of the cars.

acds08acds09This was my second visit to the museum where the building, the cars, and the presentation combine to make this one of the finest automobile museums I’ve ever seen. Over a hundred cars fill the museum and, while they are mostly Auburns, Cords, and Duesenbergs, other interesting and significant cars are also displayed. Office areas with various exhibits are also part of the museum.

acds12acds11acds10Being right next to a world class museum no doubt helps with traffic but it does expose you to some tough comparisons. My first impression of the National Automotive and Truck Museum was not helped by the fact that cars for the auctions that are an important aspect of the festival filled a significant portion of the museum. This meant that many museum vehicles were relocate and displays compressed. On the other hand, the museum’s truck collection does include some truly interesting vehicles.

acds13acds14A downtown Classic Car Cruise-In ended my first day ever at the ACD festival. There were plenty of beautiful and interesting classics parked along the streets but, after seeing all those pre-war ACDs, hot-rods, muscle cars, and ’50s & ’60s classics didn’t hold quite the attraction they might otherwise. The vehicle I found most interesting was a Corvair camper. It is not a converted van but a factory built shell mounted on a pick-up bed.

acds17acds16acds15Saturday started with a pancake breakfast at the National Military History Center. There are actually two museums here and today ten bucks got you breakfast plus admission to both.

acds18acds19acds20The day’s main attraction for me was the Parade of Classics. The 1912 Auburn Town car in the first picture was featured in this year’s festival poster. I had expected downtown to be jam packed for the parade but, except for the courthouse lawn, the area wasn’t crowded at all. There’s an awful lot going on in town this week and the parade isn’t the only place these cars can be seen but that still surprised me.

acds23acds22acds21One of the places to see the cars is around the courthouse square where they all park immediately following the parade. The cars are roped off but you can still get mighty close and all those shiny ACDs are mighty pretty.

Trip Peek #39
Trip #89
Following Jims

pvd20This picture is from my 2010 Following Jims day trip. The name comes from the fact that the trip’s structure came partially from a recent Jim Grey trip and partially from a book written by Jim Lilliefors. The trip covered a chunk of US-50 in southern Indiana. The pictured bridge, which Jim Grey made me aware of. once carried the US Highway. It was demolished in 2013. In finding the answer to a question from a previous trip, I learned about an old brewery and later visited a new brewery that is reviving the name. I ate at a cool diner and ended the day with a concert that had actually been the impetus for the trip.


Trip Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the associated trip journal.

A Pretty Fair Week

gdcf15_01Once upon a time, all of Ohio’s county fairs preceded the state fair but not anymore. In fact, only 29 of the 88 opened their gates before those of the biggie in Columbus this year. When I attended the state fair a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I make it to the fair in my original home county from time to time. This year I made it to The Great Darke County Fair on Monday which is, among other things, Senior Citizens Day. It’s a day when folks over 60 or under 12 and ministers of any age get in free. Yes, I am cheap.

gdcf15_02gdcf15_03Darke County is the Horseshoe Pitching Capital of the World so finding a tournament in progress wasn’t much of a surprise. Some of these guys can throw more consecutive ringers than I can take consecutive steps without tripping.

gdcf15_05gdcf15_04It’s another sort of competition that is at the heart of all fairs and I got to see just a little of the Junior Fair Dairy Show. I believe the fellow in the second picture placed third and he couldn’t have been happier.

gdcf15_06gdcf15_07gdcf15_08I hate to knock the Ohio State Fair but the only “amazing creatures” I saw there were “The World’s Smallest Woman” and “Snake Girl”. The Great Darke County Fair has a whole menagerie plus a giant horse. Of course, the midway also had plenty of games, rides, and food. The pictured food stand certainly isn’t the flashiest or exotic. I’m including it for personal reasons. I have a real weakness for ice cream made the old-fashioned way in a mixer cranked by an old hit-or-miss engine. Doubly so on an apple dumpling.

gdcf15_11gdcf15_10gdcf15_09When I saw that this was the day of the High School Marching Band Spectacular, I decided to hang around to see the band from my old school. I got there just a little late and missed one band. It took me awhile but I eventually figured out that the band I had missed was my old school, Ansonia. I still enjoyed the show.

gdcf15_12gdcf15_13Even though I get back to the fair every few years, it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen a dark Darke County Fair. I probably should have stayed around to ride to the top of that Ferris wheel but it was getting chilly and I was ready to head home.


gets15_03gets15_02gets15_01I visited fair grounds again on Thursday but it wasn’t for a fair. It was for the Tri-State Gas Engine and Tractor Association‘s 50th Antique Engine & Tractor Show on the Jay County Fair Grounds in Portland, Indiana. Terry, a long time friend who collects Wheel Horses, has exhibited at the show for many years. Dale, another long time friend, lives reasonably close and has attended the show on several occasions. This was my first time but I knew I’d be in good hands. I arrived a few minutes ahead of Dale which gave me a chance to snap a few pictures of Terry (on left in third picture) and his tractors. The Massey-Ferguson and Simplicities in the foreground belong to Terry’s brother, Joe.

gets15_04gets15_05gets15_06As expected, there was no shortage of gas engines including plenty of the hit and miss variety. A sizable percentage were not running and probably couldn’t without considerable effort while others were hard at work doing things like making (or at least pretending to make) ice cream. Some were running but were just relaxing and blowing smoke rings. One display prompted me to attempt a rare video to show one solution to the aggravation of having an engine that works and a console TV that doesn’t.

gets15_09gets15_08gets15_07I would quickly discover that the show contained about as many things that I had not anticipated as those that I had. Maybe I should have expected this display of unusual Crosley vehicles, Terry had shown me a photo of the motorcycle from a previous year’s show, but I didn’t. Some, like the motorcycle, are factory prototypes while others, such as the first open-wheeled Crosley-powered racer I’ve ever seen, were aftermarket customs.

gets15_10gets15_11gets15_12This would have been completely unexpected if I hadn’t heard the announcer mention it over the PA. As soon as I heard the phrase “spark plug collector” I knew it was a hobby as natural — and as endless — as postcard collecting. I was thinking only of the multitude of brands and sizes but soon discovered that there were variations I had never dreamed of. Some early designs had an opening which allowed cylinders to be primed with fuel. Others had two connectors to support both coil and magneto ignitions. There were a variety of multi-piece designs that could be used to fashion quick disconnect plugs so that fouled electrodes could be changed during racing pit stops. Besides being surprised but the many wild plug designs, I was somewhat surprised that Terry and Dale (in the first photo) were almost as unfamiliar with them as I was — but I didn’t let it show.

gets15_13We all learned something here, too. At first I thought it was showing different types of fencing like some barbed wire displays I have seen. Then I thought it might be showing different methods of splicing pieces of wire. The truth was so much better. These are variations of Check Row Planter Wires which were first patented more than 160 years ago. The wires were stretched across a field and carefully placed “buttons” would trigger the dropping of seeds from a sled pulled along their length. A slightly more readable copy of the explanatory placard is here.

gets15_14gets15_15Almost everyone knows about Gibson guitars, greeting cards, wines, appliances, and other items but I doubt many know about Gibson tractors. I didn’t. Produced between 1946 and 1952, internet searches indicate that the tractors were made in Colorado although the company was based in Seattle, Washington. This was an at least rare, if not unique, instance where one 1947 model Gibson took a photograph of another.


lsd_tshrOh, and one more thing. In between the cows and the tractors, I went to a concert at The Southgate House Revival. Tuesday marked my second time seeing Lake Street Dive. As part of his introduction, WNKU’s Ken Haynes asked how many had also attended their only other area appearance and a number of hands, including mine, went up. “Well,” he said. “They’re two years better.” He was off a little on the calculation (That show was March 4, 2014.) but right on regarding the better and they were fantastic the first time around.

Backyard History

gade01That’s George Ade’s backyard in the picture at right. Ade was a columnist, author, and playwright who was quite popular and successful as the nineteenth century wound down and the twentieth took its place. Prior to a few weeks ago, I didn’t know even that much about him. In fact, if I had ever heard his name before, I had forgotten it. I became aware of George Ade and his Indiana backyard while learning about my own “backyard”.

gade02gade03The source of my learning was and is a series of videos from History in Your Own Backyard which I’ll have more on once I’m explained the Ade connection. Each video ends with the catch phrase “Travel slowly, stop often” which, along with a longer quote that appears on screen to start each video, is attributed to George Ade. The quotes made me want to learn more about the man and at some point in my reading I realized I would be passing near his home on an imminent road trip. I did that last week and got these pictures of both the back and front yards of the place he called Hazelden Farm.

gade04Hazelden Farm is just outside of Brook, Indiana. Ade, who died in 1944, is buried a few miles south of there in Fairlawn Cemetery near Kentland. His writing has been compared to Mark Twain’s and the two humorists apparently knew each other and are said to have admired each other’s work. That, and the “Travel slowly, stop often” quote, is enough to generate some serious interest from me. So far, I’ve read just a little of Ade’s Fables in Slang but I will certainly be reading more. One place to learn more about George Ade is here.

hiyobhomeNow I’m ready to talk about History in Your Own Backyard. The project is the brainchild of Scenic Road Rallies owner Satolli Glassmeyer. It’s a rather simple concept. Each video tells the story of one historic structure in the tri-state (Indiana-Ohio-Kentucky) area. They serve to preserve the story and make it available through the project’s website and YouTube channel. That lets people like me learn about easily overlooked history that really is in our own backyards.

But the videos have an additional purpose and it shows in how they are made. The topics are well researched. The recording and editing are top notch and professional looking. The on screen interviewers and commentators are not quite so polished. They are amateurs who live in the area. Some are high school students getting a taste of and a little experience in working in front of a camera. More importantly, however, they gain a sense of ownership over both the production and its subject. Some of their friends and family probably do too. That is intentional and valuable.

Don’t get me wrong. These are not awkward camera shy klutzes stumbling over every word. They simply lack the poise and polish that experience brings. There could even be a future Barbara Walters or Larry King among them but, if so, they have a ways to go. Their sincerity, however, is never in doubt and that, along with some real enthusiasm, easily makes up for a little missing polish..

The project got started a little more than a year ago and the YouTube channel currently lists over a hundred videos. Some are of active businesses in historic building that include interviews with current owners. Others might have only a commentator in an empty building or on a deserted bridge. Some even use old photographs with Ken Burns style voice-over. The following promotional video, which looks to gain new viewers, participants, and subjects, explains things better than I can.

You don’t have to live in my neighborhood to enjoy the History in Your Own Backyard videos. A general interest in history and preservation will suffice. But, if you do live in the neighborhood, they will probably tell you something you didn’t know or had forgotten and almost certainly give you some ideas for that next drive around your “backyard”.

Book Review
Indiana Cars
Dennis & Terri Horvath

Indiana Cars coverYes, I am late to the party. This book on Indiana’s automotive history was published in 2002 but, since it’s about old cars, none of the history has changed and the cars have only gotten older.

I learned of and purchased the book when one of its authors performed guide duty on a tour that was part of the Lincoln Highway Centennial Kickoff in Indianapolis. On that tour, Dennis Horvath took us to many of the city’s automotive landmarks and this book contains all of those and more. Though few might consider Indiana Cars light reading, it is certainly interesting reading. Dennis knows automotive history. And he really knows Indiana automotive history.

There is a tremendous amount of it. At one time second only to Michigan in automobile production, Indiana has been home to more than 400 vehicle brands. Some are still widely recognized — Stutz, Studebaker, Duesenberg. Other, such as Lexington, Flandermobile, and Empire, are pretty much forgotten outside of hardcore automotive circles and the pages of this book. Similarly, Indiana had plenty of automobile pioneers. Louis Chevrolet, Harry Stutz, and Eddie Rickenbacker are fairly well known; Guys like Elwood Haynes, Charles Black, and Louis Schwitzer not so much. They’re all there in Indiana Cars.

There is an introduction and “A General Overview by Decade” to get things started. That overview begins in the 1890s. It talks of the overall automotive industry and Indiana’s role in it. There are lots of numbers. It was this I had most in mind when I said that some folks would not consider the book light reading. Statistics are necessary, of course, in showing growth and relationships. The Horvaths do a good job of presenting them but they are still numbers. Numbers don’t make for exciting reading but they make for a good reference book and that’s a role Indiana Cars plays quite well.

Indiana Cars sampleOnce the background is set, the book moves onto the various manufacturers. Not every mark ever built in the state is covered but there are sizable sections on what the Horvaths consider “Significant Automobiles”. The reading isn’t so dry now. There are fairly lengthy articles on the likes of Duesenberg and Studebaker and shorter ones on others. The book is well illustrated with photographs and clippings from period literature. Facts are seasoned with entertaining anecdotes. Joe Cole got his first car running and took off without installing the brakes. Lack of fuel finally stopped it after many laps around Monument Circle in Indianapolis. In 1891, Charley Black’s six-block drive in a Benz included crashing into both a surrey and a shop window. Those were the good old days.

Trucks built in Indiana have a section as do military vehicles. Many of those pioneering Hoosiers who put Indiana near the front of the early automotive development are covered, too. Appendices include listings of all Indiana cars, major milestones, and other items.

Indiana Cars excels as a source of information  The book most likely contains the answer to whatever questions you may have about the automotive industry in Indiana. Car nuts will find it entertaining. They and history buffs will find it educational. Those in neither group may find it a wee bit dry.

Indiana Cars: A History of the Automobile in Indiana, Dennis E. Horvath and Terri Horvath,  Hoosier Auto Show & Swap Meet Inc. (printed by Jackson Press), 2002, hardback, 8.8 x 11.2 inches, 198 pages, ISBN 978-0964436459