In memory of Ben Garat
'Pottsville', site of the 1989 National EDGE&TA meet.
53I Crestview Loop Grants Pass, Oregon 97527 Photo courtesy of Virginia Loar
Bill Wallner of Cave Junction, Oregon, and Ben Garat of Eagle Point, Oregon, along with Jack Versteeg, called a meeting of interested individuals to form a new branch of the national Early Day Gas Engine & Tractor Association on January 21, 1984. We met at Dan Collins' store, Wade's Equipment Rental, in Grants Pass. Bill Wallner was elected Charter President; Ben Garat, Vice President; and Dan Collins, Editor of the Cast Iron News. We started meeting bi-monthly with newsletters being sent the alternate months.
Branch 9 was originally assigned to a group from Vista, California of which Ben Garat was an original member. This group dropped their membership to pursue building a museum. Therefore, we became Branch 9 with sixteen charter members.
We grew over the next three years, meeting at homes of members and at Pottsville, just north of Grants Pass near Merlin, Oregon. Pottsville, home of Oregon Memories, was a creation of long-time history buff State Senator E.D. 'Debbs' Potts back in 1959 to help celebrate the Oregon Centennial. It consists of several buildings including a school-/church, blacksmith shop, and museum. Pottsville became a natural place for us to meet and in 1986 we began having an Annual Gas Up there in June of each year. This year's show will be held on June 4 and 5, 1988. The first Branch 9 'swap meet' will be held, as well as such exhibits as logging, quilting, washing machine progress, muzzle-loader target practice, and the usual displays of running engines and tractors. Plenty of food, RV parking, and reasonable motel space are available. Those who wish to fly in will be able to use the landing strip now under construction.
L-R: Front row-Floyd Berg, vice president; Aileen Berg, Sec/Treas.; Dan Collins, past president. Back row-Phil Finch, editor, Cast Iron News; Roy Whisenant, president; Fred Dawson, director; Rusty Brizen-dine, membership; Lloyd Nelson, director (Director Lowell Crawford is not pictured).
At our hall Gas Up in 1986, Senator Potts was honored with a lifetime membership in Branch 9.
We still enjoy meeting at members' homes and alternate our now monthly meetings between Pottsville and traveling to different locations. We display at local fairs and historical events throughout northern California and southern Oregon each year with a Fall Gas Up at a member's home. Visitors and guests are welcome anytime. Our membership has grown to over 100 members and we will be hosting the National EDGE&.TA meeting at Pottsville in June 1989.