Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Celebration of Agriculture and Happy 4th of July

Yesterday, in a family tradition, I took my 5 year old grandson, Eli, to the Southeast Old Threshers Reunion at Denton Farm Park. This yearly event is a marvelous celebration of all things agricultural, the farming heritage of our area and the preservation of arts, industry and Americana. It is unapologetically redneck, countified, hot, sweaty, noisy and thoroughly patriotic, historic and genuine.

The Denton Farm Park is located in Southern Davidson County, North Carolina, near the Randolph County line in the old Handy Community. It began sometime in the early 70's as a gathering of rural airplane enthusiasts and evolved into a recreated farm town and several rural or country-oriented events are held there during the year.

One of the founders of the event is a gentleman by the name of Brown Loflin. I do not know much about him outside of the fact that he is a living legend in this area of the country, having a hand in this place and event that attracts farm folk from all over the country, particularly the Southeast, and having had a bridge along Route 8 named for him.

Photo: Brown Loflin enjoying the Myers Garage
Mr. Brown Loflin (from the Park Facebook Page). 

Every imaginable type of farm machinery and mechanical invention can be found here and several events are held throughout the day. These scenes were from Thursday evenings Tractor Pull.

Eli and I started our tour with a ride on the Handy Dandy Railroad. The train runs the parameter of the park. The locomotive was  recovered by the park founders several decades ago from the mountains of North Carolina, in a state of disrepair and was restored to the beauty it is today.

We met the sheriff upon boarding the train. Rumor had it that armed bandits had been seen in the area and that they were after the mining company payroll, which was also a traveler on the train.

With little hesitation, we purchases our tickets from the station and found our seats, along with other anxious passengers.
To our advantage, a genuine Texas Ranger had been plopped down in the middle of North Carolina and was riding with us. He was authentically long, lean and lanky. People tend to forget that the majority of citizens in the 19th century were thin, sinewy and tough, from hard work, completely organic diets and tough times. The face (and body) of the average American has changed drastically with "comfort foods" replacing genuine nutrition.

Not far into our trip, we were stopped by a group of men determined to whip a teen-aged boy for Horse-thievery. We were invited to watch the drama unfold from the windows of our passenger car.

Some cowboys were wanting to horsewhip a boy for being a horse thief. 
The accused Horse Thief
The Sheriff chose to intervene and suggested the horses may have wandered off. 
When the Sheriff was not looking, he became the victim of an attack. 
Our car was invaded by a nearly blind Train Robber called Hobart. 
The Sheriff was rescued by the accused Horsethief he had saved, with a frying pan. 

After our exciting and eventfully train ride around the park, we had the opportunity to meet Miss Caroline Smith from Denton. Miss Smith is the 2014 Southeast Old Thrashers Reunion Queen. She is a college student pursuing her Master's degree and wears her crown well. My grandson, who loves pretty girls, was so stricken by her, he was too shy to have his picture made with her.

The event is a week long, taking place every Fourth of July week. People come from all over and camp around the parameter of the park. The campers become a community of their own. They set up temporary homes under the shade of the big oaks that surround the park and produce their own exhibits.

This instant community is reminiscent of antique photographs I've seen of old "Camp Meetings", where people would stay for a week or two around a church or at an area were a revival and evangelists were preaching. It is also likened to old pictures of Gold Hill, where many hopeful minors and there families would set up tents and other forms of temporary shelters, to seek their fortune before they either settled down in a more permanent fixture or moved on.

The "Instant Community" of Denton Farm Park. 

Campers set up "yard sale" or "flea market" exhibits while they are there and trade or sell their treasures.

This inventive attendee had set up several rolling displays of movement with wheels, gears, pulleys and belts going in various directions. We observed this curiosity from the train window and could not determine its purpose, except one of fascination.

The most fascinating part of the park, for me, is the recreated town of Jackson Hill. The real town of Jackson Hill lay along what is now Highway 8, a rambling country road that begins it's southern end in Stanly County, in New London and winds and climbs its way through the Uwharries and follows the Yadkin up through Davidson County to Lexington and beyond. A few orignal buildings still exist there and of course, people still live there. The Surratt Mill still operates there, but other buildings, like the Methodist Church and the Post Office, have been relocated to Denton Farm Park.
Williams 1856 Map with unnamed crossing at Morgans Ford

The General Store also holds the Post Office.

The Feed Store.

A sign at the original location of the town called Jackson Hill.

The Post Office inside the Jackson Hill General Store

Post Office Boxes once used at Jackson Hill

A Game of Chess takes place as it would have in olden days inside the old Post Office.  A Barber Chair is to the right. 

An old Cash Register. Phones were above it. 

The old switchboard for the Telephone Company

A wall of the General Store


Another relocate old store building

A view of Main Street

Jackson Hill Church

Another Mercantile Surrounded by Campers

Inside View of the Historic Church

A Plague Commemorating the Move of the Church Building

The Church in its original location after desertion and before restoration

Jackson Hill Church takes a ride

Old Esso Station

Inside the old Gas Station

Another shot of Main Street

Around the corner View

Lookout Tower

Tractors Everywhere

My Favorite Spot, the old farm where the "Farm Park" gets its name from. 

A View of some of the outbuilding from the side of the Main House.

The Main Farm House

One of the outbuildings. Old Farms held several utility structures.

The Tramping Barn

Bluegrass was in the air. 

Blacksmith Shop

Closeup of the Barn



His tools

Smoke House for Smoking Meats

Heritage Garden beside the House

The Kitchen House, separate from the Dwelling House in case of fire. 

The Porch of the Dwelling House

Inside the Kitchen House, the fireplace

The table inside the Kitchen House

The Back Porch, notice the Upstairs Windows

Farmers at the Log Cabin. Notice the Farmhouse in the Distance

Mother and foal

Tractor Pull

A Close Up of the Activity behind Main Street

The Audience, including my own little Onlooker

Train Caboose

Another old farmhouse on the backside of the Property awaiting restoration

The Old Thrashers Reunion is an event for the entire family.

A View of the Farm from across the pond, showing Dwelling House, Kitchen House, Smoke House and several of the barns, sheds, corn crib, well, etc. 

The surrounding countryside of the Handy community is full of old abandoned farm houses. 

Green fields abound

As does Cow Pastures.

Other Old Buildings, Stores and Mercantiles still exist in the area. 

Cornfields Everywhere

Old Steam Engines Welcome Visitors
Hope you enjoyed your visit to the Old Thrashers Reunion near Denton, Davidson County, North Carolina.


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