Big Iron Crank-Up

Whistle museum on wheels

The 'Big Horn,' world's only horn and whistle museum on wheels.

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1052 Calhoun Falls Highway Elberton, Georgia 30635

The Georgia Antique Engine Club and the City of Bowman cosponsored the 6th annual Big Iron Crank-Up in Bowman, Georgia, on April 15-17. Bowman is a small community of about 850 citizens, all of whom were delighted to host the 5,000 people in attendance at this show.

There were 339 exhibitors from Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, and Virginia. There were also approximately 1,000 engines on display. It is one of the largest steam engine shows in the south, and the Bowman City Park was the perfect setting for the event.

The fun began on the Town Square with arts and crafts and yard sales throughout the community. A shuttle bus was available to carry people from the square to the park all weekend. Upon entering the park visitors were issued a $2 park pass for the three days of the crank-up.

The coordinators of the event were Lynn Ellis of Bowman, chairman of the Big Iron Crank-Up, and Wendell Felch of Douglasville, Georgia, president of the Georgia Antique Engine Club. They were quite ingenious in their planning, not only for the exhibitors, but also for the friends and family who accompanied them.

Besides the exhibits covering the areas of the park, children could play in the spacious playground. There was a cake walk starting the day; a big consignment auction in the early afternoon; a cow patty contest mid-afternoon; an antique weapons display and competition shooting; and a tractor pull. Bingo was played at the end of the day. Concessions and barbecue were sold throughout the weekend.

Winner of the $500 cash prize in the cow patty contest was Earl Garen from Pisgah Forest, North Carolina.

The 'Big Horn,' world's only horn and whistle museum on wheels, was brought by Hyler J. Bracey of Smyrna, Georgia. It has over 40 steam whistles, 14 train and boat horns, and four ship's horns. Many of the steam whistles are over 100 years old.

The tractor pull consisted of 34 entries for competition, with all the tractors manufactured before 1960. They pulled up to 4,000 lbs. of granite on a sled.

All exhibitors got a plaque, and trophies were given to the winners of the tractor pull.

It all added up to an old-fashioned good time with exhibitors and the people of Bowman forming new friendships and renewing old friendships. Make your plans now to join them next year it's a weekend of fun!