SAWMILL DAY 1991

By Staff
1 / 2
Kirk Rhone (with the big grin!) and Ottawa saw.
2 / 2
Gene Gabbert with some of his John Deeres.

3251 S. Pine Barren Rd. McDavid, Florida 32568

Once again, gray skies cleared and gave us a good day for
Sawmill Day. This second annual event was put on by the
Alger-Sullivan Historical Society of Century, Florida. The original
purpose was to raise money for historical preservation, but it has
had the side benefit of boosting the public spirit, as well.

Things officially kicked off at 10 A.M. with the parade. This
took about an hour-partly because it was big and partly because of
some unusual entries. Naturally, the school band was there. Desert
Storm heroes were honored. The fire department, sheriff, and police
cars provided flashing lights and wailing sirens. But, then there
was the Hill and Brooks Coffee Company’s team of magnificent
Belgian horses pulling their fancy wagon. Some of the streets were
a little rough due to the continuing construction of a new sewer
system, so these guys had to take it easy. If that wasn’t
unusual enough, Vice Construction Company drove a team of eight
oxen pulling an eight wheel wagon. These good-natured beasts were
under voice command. We had a pretty good turnout of antique cars,
too. 

Engine show turnout was small, but we had a good variety. The
threat of rain had caused some of the folks to cancel out and
others went to Houston, Mississippi, where they sure enough got
rained on. We changed our date this year to avoid Houston-and they
changed, too! This year we’ll go back to the first weekend in
May and just not worry about other shows.

We had a demonstration of a log saw from Kirk Rhone. Garry
Godwin showed a grist mill. Jim Gramlich has a variety of gadgets
on the back of an antique Ford truck, and a very nice collection of
steam whistles. I brought a ’58 Schramm (Wisconsin 2 + 2
converted V4) air compressor to blow Jim’s

whistles, most of which he had never heard. We also blew an old
logging engine whistle owned by David Blackwell who also had a F-M
powered Invincible corn sheller. Jerry Shenk had a variety of
engines and equipment, including a steel burr mill and a 32 volt
generator. My trailer included a Tiny Tim generator, a headless F-M
pulling a pumpjack, and a 2 HP Witte kero burner. Fred Welch’s
Gould water ram (wish it were mine) was there, too. Robert McGoun
was there with a real nice Maytag display. The Bauer family showed
some of their fine engines. Did I miss anyone? Boy, will I hear
about it if I did!

It’s been gone since the fire of ’37, but the sawmill
originally operated with a Corliss-type steam engine. The woods
around here are dotted with steam engine foundations from other
early sawmills.

Gene Gabbert showed up with several fine John Deere tractors
from his HUGE collection, and a display of miniatures. This guy has
so many tractors they won’t all fit in his two barns! Gene puts
on his own shows in the spring and fall at his farm near Jay,
Florida. 

The engines and tractors were in a prime spot next to the
slowly-being-restored company hotel. The members in our local club
(RULES: none; MEETINGS: none; OFFICERS: none) decided a more
secluded area would be better next time. We figure we’ll make
enough noise and smoke for the truly interested to find us.

Down near the site of the old shop, blacksmith Tony Holliday
demonstrated his art. Nearby, the oxen and Wilson Johnson’s
three-hitch team of Percherons demonstrated logging techniques.
Somehow, a contest came about between my 6000 pound tractor and
Wilson’s horses. It was a massacre. With the engine shut down
and the wheels locked, the big Belarus was dragged for a quarter of
a mile, or more, from a standing start! Give me a D-8 Cat and I
think I’ll be able to take them.

Things had been really wet the week before the show. This,
combined with freshly dug sewer lines, gave us a bit of a mess. I
spent all night and early morning pulling vehicles from the
quicksand pits thus formed. All the mud, and a cracked fuel line,
really gave my tractor that well-used look. One fellow who had just
viewed the spotless, restored JDs, looked at my nasty machine and
asked me (and I think he was serious) if I had seen that nice
restored one, like mine, just around the corner. Hunter’s Farm
Equipment was showing a new one!

At the other end of the Historic District, live music, handmade
crafts, and a variety of foods were available. The 1913 post
office, now a museum, looked very nice in fresh paint. Our exhibits
are getting better and more varied, too. The museum is on the
grounds where the boss, Mr. Hauss, once lived. The house is long
gone, but we are making slow headway to restore the
once-magnificent grounds. We have discovered that you can’t
wait for grants in this era of government budget cutting, so all of
our funding has come from local projects and contributions.

One successful fundraiser was our book, A Sawmill Scrapbook. It
contains mostly photos and one or two page stories about the early
days of the town. We really had to work to get this out in time for
Sawmill Day, because we knew nothing about publishing. We swore
we’d never do this again, but are already gathering material
for a new volume.

We don’t know what we’ll do to top Sawmill Day ’91,
but we’ll think of something. Sawmill Day ’92 will be
Saturday, May 2. We’ll have a cookout and live music Friday
night. We’ll have free camping for exhibitors. Century is on
U.S. 29, about 45 miles north of Pensacola.

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines