Down the Road

Roads and life and how roads are like life

Captured: Still life with fan

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Still life with fan

The last stop with my friend Dawn on our annual road trip this year was to Stockdale Mill, a restored and functional water-powered flour mill just west of tiny Roann in northern Indiana. Because of Roann’s annual festival in progress, mill tours were operating under extended hours. Our tour guide said that the mill was built in 1857 and ground grain until the early 1960s. New worker-safety rules did the mill in. There’s something inherently dangerous about large quantities of flour in a building made of wood. Flour dust is highly explosive.

I had my Nikon F2AS slung over one shoulder and a Yashica Lynx 14e I’m testing slung over the other. But as I write this, neither roll of film has been processed. I’m glad that my Canon PowerShot S95 was along, too, so I could share images with you more quickly. Not that there’s much to show, as I struggled to make useful images in and around the mill. Maybe some of my film shots will turn out better, but I’m not optimistic. As we passed through what had been the mill office, I spied this old fan. I’m fascinated with old fans, so I took a bunch of shots of it. This one captured the scene well enough.

Black Chrysler

Black Chrysler
Olympus XA, Arista Premium 400
2013

At the tractor pull

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Dawn and I drove to tiny Roann in northern Indiana to see its covered bridge and nearby historic grist mill, and found to our surprise that it was the weekend of the town’s annual Covered Bridge Festival. All of the trappings were present: carnival rides, food booths, and a parade featuring fire trucks from a five-county radius. Big doings in small-town Indiana!

The best part was the antique-tractor pull. I’m absolutely not a guy you’ll find at the fairgrounds on Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! with a lite beer in hand watching multi-engined, fire-breathing, smoke-belching megatractors. But it was undeniably charming to watch this motorsport in its elemental form: everyday people from rural Indiana who brought their antique tractors to compete at a small-town pull track.

I followed one woman driving her 1950s Farmall from start to finish. Here she is, queued up and waiting her turn.

At the tractor pull

She drove onto the track and backed up to the weight. I’m sure there’s an official name for the contraption she pulled, but I’m not hip to the lingo.

At the tractor pull

Then she was poised and ready to start pulling.

At the tractor pull

As she made her way down the track, I zoomed out to take in as much as my camera could see. The fellow reclining in the back was the official scorekeeper. I guess the object was to see how far each tractor could drag this weight down the track.

At the tractor pull

More tractors were queued up behind her. Here are the next three to go. It must be comfortable to lean forward and rest a forearm on the steering wheel.

At the tractor pull

This Allis-Chalmers got its turn soon enough.

At the tractor pull

As did this beautiful Cockshutt 40. Its style reminds me of the Streamline Moderne design movement from the 1930s, but these tractors were first built in 1949.

At the tractor pull

I have no idea who won. I barely understood how this whole competition worked! But it was great to see this old iron put to the stress test.


When I was a boy, my dad worked at the Oliver tractor factory. Read about it.

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