Sunday, August 21, 2011

Nelson Jones and My State Fair

As people may have figured out by now, I love the Indiana State Fair and I love taking pictures of the activities and people involved in them. Each year I "patrol the perimeter," taking pictures of people and exhibits that catch my eye. Among my favorite places on the grounds is the "Pioneer Village," which displays and demonstrates farm machinery and practices of years past -- some of which are not that far in the past at all.

Pioneer Village is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It was established in 1961 by the Purdue Agribusiness Alumni Association. The showcase opened at the fair with an exhibit of its agriculture museum collection and has grown in popularity and size ever since. It now encompasses five acres of the northeast  section of the fairgrounds and consists of several buildings saved and restored for use. Among them is a barn, a silo, storage buildings and a corn crib, one end of which is used as a bin to store coal for the machinery used during the fair.

On the corn crib I saw a sign which read:

Captain O. Nelson Jones

The coal in this bin and that being used to power the engines in the Pioneer Village has been very kindly donated by Mr. Jack Weiss and Mr. Ed Schwartzentruber of Cincinnati Bulk Terminals LLC in honor of Captain O. Nelson Jones.

Captain Jones passed away July 25, 2010 at the age of 52 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

He was a highly respected industry leader who, if you asked him, would have humbly disagreed, pointing to others he held in high esteem.

His early childhood memories of river activities, his summer job aboard the steam-prop towboat, J. S. Lewis, and his father's sternwheel pleasure boat all combined to sow the seeds for a river career.

At age twelve,he persuaded the Mayor of Charleston (West Virginia) to sponsor a sternwheel boat race that became the Charleston Sternwheel Regatta, a premier river event for the next twenty years.

Captain Jones came to manage his family business at age twenty-four, his father telling him, "you have one year to turn it around." The Amherst Madison Company now successfully operates thirty barge towboats, ranging in horsepower from 165 to 5,600 as well as a construction division that has numerous floating cranes and barges.

Jones was an ardent supporter of the Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen and an active member of the American Sternwheel Association.

He was described by his friends as a fair-minded, genuine gentleman and one who was passionate about his industry.

Captain Jones was truly an industry leader who reached beyond his own business to create a positive impact on the world around him.

Thank you, Captain Jones, and many thanks to Cincinnati Bulk Terminals LLC for this wonderful gift of fifteen tons of coal for Pioneer Village.

While I was taking pictures, I briefly met one of the men who'd made the gift in Captain Jones's name. We didn't get much of a chance to talk, but it's fairly safe to say we were each surprised to find another member of both the S&D and ASA in the middle of the Indiana State Fair, and to know that it was because of the continued high regard felt for Nelson Jones by his friends and associates that he and I were able to share our mutual interest in river history.


dive said...

Three cheers for Captain Jones! What a marvellous man.
How good to see a traction engine running the saw. We have rtather a lot of those still on the road over here. The Strumpshaw Steam Rally is a good time to avoid driving in the village as a couple of hundred of the monsters chug here under their own steam. Spectacular fun. I shall have to do a photopost at some time.
Mum always goes to Henham team Rally. Check these out:

Speedway said...

When I'm working on my riverboat stuff, I feel as though I'm alone in a sea of people to whom "boat" means those moored gambling houses on the Ohio, or plastic body-slamming outboards. It was so unexpected to see the sign and to meet someone with whom I have a shared interest.

I looked at your Mum's steam pictures. Those are cool old machines. Do those things still really drive the roads? Or do they ride on trailers from show to show? I took a lot of pictures yesterday of draft horses, too. My camera isn't powerful enough to stop motion, so few are usable.

dive said...

Over here, "boats" usually mean Broads cruisers, those awful floating holiday homes people hire on the Norfolk Broads. We do, however, still have a lot of old nineteenth century sailing wherries still working here and of course several million too many yachts and dinghies. I'm a crap sailor but I do love whizzing around in the safety boat and the local regatta.

Yes, those cool old traction engines still run around on the roads here (at least in this part of Norfolk where we have the country's largest three collections all within a twenty mile radius and lots of shows).