White River Valley Antique Club Sold on Antique Farm Equipment Demonstrations
The White River Valley Antique Club in Elnora, Ind., focuses on antique farm equipment and historic items
Readying the lineshaft at the machine shop/wood shop. Club members spent more than three years acquiring machinery for the machine shop. The equipment there includes a drill press, lathe, shaper, milling machine and air compressor, all powered by a 10 hp Fairbanks-Morese gas engine.
It's hard to tell who's having more fun at the White River Valley Antique and Machinery Show: visitors to the three-day event, or members of the club. Members of the club, after all, are actively engaged in the show's specialty: demonstrating vintage equipment.
To be sure, more than a few shows are bigger than this one, which is held at Elnora in southwestern Indiana. Some shows have more tractors; others have more engines. But if it's demonstrations you're after, it'd be hard to top Elnora.
"It's in our bylaws," says White River President Melvin Paulus. "It actually says in there that this group was formed for the preservation of historic items; that we're to use them to demonstrate; to teach young people about the past."
White River members have risen to that challenge with admirable enthusiasm.
Demonstrations at the site run the gamut from a three-horse treadmill powering a thresher, to corn shredding, to a full-scale machine shop, to making lye soap.
"It really is a unique show," Melvin says. "I really think that, as far as shows I've been to, we have as good a demonstration area as any around."
The club identified its focus early. "We planned right from the beginning to have a lot of demonstrations," Melvin says. "There's no other show in this area with that many demonstrations. Then it just kind of grew."
Like Topsy. This year's show featured (all in operation) a shingle mill, machine shop, wood shop, museum, water wheel/grist mill, blacksmith, cider press, sawmill, log cabin (with a working loom, quilting and handmade rugs), steam engines, steam traction engines, old-time school house (where a cheerfully strict school marm reigns), hay baler, thrashing machines, fanning mill, corn shredder, soap making, ear corn elevator, separator, corn grinding, three-horse treadmill on a small thresher, sorghum press, smoke house, old-time kitchen/cookhouse, and plowing with horses. Then there's the fellow who gives a convincing demonstration of flailing grain. The process of flailing grain is so painfully slow, inefficient and physically exhausting that, by comparison, the early mechanical pieces look monstrously powerful and technologically sophisticated. Club members also make butter, apple butter, bread, bean soup, ice cream and root beer, among other delicacies.