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.