The Eastern Shore's Enchanted Forest

Tuckahoe show offers a little bit of everything

| October 2005

Visit the Tuckahoe Steam & Gas Association Show, just north of Easton on Maryland's eastern shore, and it's the next best thing to being "beamed up." As you enter the show grounds through a break in the trees, spinning from nearby traffic that's hurled you in like a fastball, you instantly leave the world behind.

Eric Harvey, Easton, was the show chairman of the 2005 show, held July 7-10. A youngster in the world of show leadership, he carries impressive seniority nonetheless. "This show has been going on for 32 years," he says, "and I've been to 31 of them." His memories stretch to the days when the 43-acre club-owned grounds were a dense forest. "This was all woods," he says. "It all had to be cleared."

Club members wielded a careful hand at that task, and the result is an enchanted forest with nooks and crannies for tractor displays, stationary engines, a flea market, picnicking and "lots of miscellaneous." The grounds are packed without seeming so. "We're expecting 300 tractors," Eric said on July 9, during the show's biggest day, "and we have eight steamers here today. We have a large local collector base: We're almost 1,000 members strong."

Those members clearly relish variety. The Tuckahoe show offers scads of antique tractors, steamers, cars and trucks, horse-drawn equipment and stationary engines, a scale, as well as a small gauge passenger train, and model trains running like clockwork. Demonstrations abound: rock crushing, shingle making, sawing, plowing, lumber planing, colonial crafts and blacksmithing are among the offerings. Take in all that, and there's still the Rural Life Museum with professional quality, comprehensive displays of everything from a vintage machine shop to a turn-of-the-century country store … and then there's the collector exhibits.

Captain of the vise squad

As a collector, Allen Thomas, Conowingo, Md., has broad tastes. He's collected gas engines, farm tractors, steam engines, air compressors, sprayers, phone insulators, pipe wrenches, garden tractors and lawn edgers. But what he's really nuts for is the lowly vise. "It's an obsession for me," he says, readily admitting that he has little competition. "I don't know anybody else who collects vises, even though it's a tool everybody uses."

Allen's been collecting vises for more than 10 years. Although his collection includes big vises (he started out with an anvil vise), he prefers small ones. "The smaller, the better," he says, smiling. "They're easier to carry."