SPARK PLUG OF THE MONTH


| November/December 1970



Witte Gas Engine

Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana 47390.

Joe Fahnestock

Dayton Daily News & Radio's 'Joe's Journal'

Even engine shows are quaint and different down in Old Kaintuck where the tall 'baccer grows and the soft, southern drawl bespeaks a friendliness and hospitality known only 'mongst the mountain folk.

The countryside was dry as tinder down yonder in de land o' Dixie, come August first, the only greenery dotting the landscape being the tall southern pines and the burley as high as an elephant's eye. But the Bluegrass Steam and Gas Engine Show went right on as scheduled at the Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Kentucky 'fire-grounds.' The ancient, century-old wooden amphitheatre, supported by the tall, rough-hewn pine-tree pillars and timbers lent a background of fairyland charm to the sputtering and chugging steam and gas engines of antique vintage gathered for the first organized engine show in the state of Kentucky. The tiny, quarter-mile race track, hardly big enough to turn a horse around on yet an arena for many a fierce contender for equine supremacy in years past, lent a nostalgia that rarely is seen in this modern day. The quaint gingerbread architecture of the judge's tower jutting skyward in the center of the tiny track, overlooking the spacious open-air box-seats of the prominent town social set with their names painted thereon in big, bold letters, all lent a richness of splendor reminiscent of an opulent age quite befitting the array of old-time farm machinery displayed nearby.

Even the toilets, though spic and span, were quite different in Kentucky-land. And I never did figure out why the men's shower was directly positioned to inundate the solitary Jon seat in the private latrine. Nor could my wife understand why I stopped her from rinsing my underwear drawers in a certain inviting trough with running water as though it was made for that purpose. But we had fun in Kentucky, simply because everything in Dixieland bespoke a friendliness and charm quite unlike that in our native Buckeyeland.

'After attending engine shows in various outlying states, and realizing that many a fine old engine was being sold from down here and going elsewhere, I decided to start a show in Kentucky to preserve some of our own engines for future generations,' explains Carl Secchi of Harrodsburg, Kentucky.

It all began sort of humble-like, The Bluegrass Steam and Gas Engine Association. Carl Secchi, not a native-born Kentuckian, but hailing from the state of Massachusetts, had for years run a so-called Carl's Fix-It Shop down in the county seat of Harrodsburg, located in the lovely rolling hills of Mercer County.