Farming Heritage

Pioneer Power Tractor club’s
annual show on tap

Miles family collects, organizes
annual Carrollton, Ky., show

GHENT, Ky. (May 2017) – Randal Miles, 56, and his wife, Debbie, share their “own little piece of heaven” with Angus cattle, miniature horses, donkeys, dogs and an enviable collection of tractors. Lots of tractors. More than Randal is willing to count.
“I am a self-proclaimed pack rat,” he said.
From their hilltop home on 100 acres in Carroll County, Ky., the view is spectacular. They can sit on their front porch and have a panoramic view of fireworks displays from Kentucky Speedway or other shows. Tiny smokestacks are visible from power plants along the Ohio River. 
Randal is quick to point out that he and Debbie are a team.
“She’s into it as much as I am,” he said. They have dedicated the last 20 years or more to collecting tractors and related items.
Several of Miles’ tractors will be displayed at the 15th annual Pioneer Antique Tractor Show on May 5-6 at Point Park in Carrollton, Ky. This year’s show will feature Ford and Fordson Tractors and farm equipment, according to Calvin Miles of Ghent, Ky., who is Randal’s brother and one of the show organizers.

Photo by Alice Jane Smith

Randal and Debbie Miles pose with one of their antique tractors at their home in Ghent, Ky.

Randal prizes tractors for their “character and personality” for what they say about the farmer who worked them. They don’t have to be show quality, all red and green, or even in working condition to pique the Miles’ interest.
“It’s better if they are rusty,” Debbie said.
“They have more personality,” Randal added. “I have little use for the shiny new ‘Trailer Queen,’ as it is known in our world,” he chuckled. “It is nice to have something that a farmer had and used. We can see how the farmers treated them and used them and made modifications to them to adapt to their styles of farming.”
By the same token, it is his mission and that of other organizers to pass on this tradition to others. “We started the club to educate our younger generation about the history of farming,” he said.
“You can see their eyes light up,” Debbie added, when the youth take a ride on one of the tractors. 
Said Randal, “Some of the older generation, people in their 70s and 80s, say, ‘I had an old one just like that.’ It’s in their blood. They want to drive them. We want to make them happy. That’s what we want to do at these shows.”
“It is very satisfying,” Randal said, describing his work on the tractors and at the annual tractor shows. “The work is relaxing, soothing.”
The Miles raised tobacco back when Carroll County was one of the leaders in tobacco production. Now that the county has shifted to industry, he wants to help preserve the county’s farming heritage. He uses one of his tobacco barns to store the majority of his tractors that were made in the 1940s and 1950s. He pointed out a Centaur made in Greenwich, Ohio, that was primarily used for highway mowing. He also has a good collection of tobacco harvesting equipment from the 1930s, 1940s and 1970s. “We raised a lot of tobacco here,” he said.
Randal’s oldest tractor is a blue Farmall F-20, built in 1936. He also has a 1938 Silver King. If he had to pick a favorite, it would be his International Farmall 300 TD 6 Crawler, the one he inherited from his father, Roy Miles, a founding member of the Pioneer Power Antique Tractor.

Photo by Alice Jane Smith

Randal Miles says he collects antique tractors as a way to try and preserve Carroll County’s farming heritage in the wake of a lost tobacco industry.

“Dad bought it in 1956. He cleaned it up and painted it before he passed away. I wouldn’t touch it for nothing because it’s his work,” Randal said. Forty years ago, he helped his father rebuild the motor, which still works well.
The Miles have two children, of whom they are quite proud: Courtney, now a physician with Mayo Clinic in Arizona, and Ryan, who works in finance in Tennessee.
Calvin Miles says he expects this year’s show to draw more than 150 visitors.
“We try to put on a good, clean family event,” Miles said. The event is free. There will be door prizes, raffles, drawings and special events for children. The Rotary Club will be selling pancakes and sausage, and the Lion’s Club will have a fish fry. One vendor will sell homemade ice cream. Mark Smith of State Farm Insurance is the main sponsor.
“We also have work demonstrations and run a cut-off saw and a burr mill for corn. We also might have a hay baler,” Miles said.
Last year, visitors came to the show from 50 to 60 miles away, although one couple came from New York. The show featured Case Tractors last year, so they came specifically to see them.

Madison, Ind., area club plans 11th annual show

Later in May and in June, there will be two more events for tractor enthusiasts. Both will be in Madison, and both will be sponsored by the Kent (Ind.) Vintage Lawn & Garden Club.
On May 20, the Kent (Ind.) Vintage Lawn & Garden Club will present its 11th annual show at Tractor Supply in Madison, Ind. It is located on Clifty Drive on Madison’s hilltop. Hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Bad weather has been a problem in the past few years, so Jeff Shepherd, one of the organizers, said he hopes for better weather this time. “We hope to get back up to 100 tractors this year,” he said.
The Kent Vintage Lawn & Garden Club has 46 members. It has organized the show for the past three years. Ernie Crawley and the late Donald Dunlap previously organized the show.
Bob & Kev’s Bar-B-Que will serve food. There will be door prizes and gifts. “It will be a pretty fun day,” Shepherd said.
On June 3, the club will sponsor a 21-mile Tractor Drive in Madison. “We want to try one. It is something new,” Shepherd said. “People will assemble at the old Rex Nord Building, drive north on Michigan Road to Graham Road, then drive to State Road 250 to Hwy. 421 and go into the Main Gate of the Jefferson Proving Ground. We will have lunch at the Big Circle, and go out at Gate 19.”
Shepherd started collecting tractors in the 1980s. His first was a 1938 WK 40 McCormick Deering International Harvester. Back then, there were not too many shows, he said. Now there are many more shows, and the appeal is growing. Older people see the tractors and say, ‘Hey, I grew up on one of those tractors.’ ”

Preserving history is what makes the shows important for younger people, Shepherd added.

Back to May 2017 Articles.



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