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Journey Through North Carolina’s Technological History at The 40th Annual High Country Crank-Up, July 25-27

By Tzar Wilkerson

Since 1979, the Carolina Flywheelers have been celebrating the antiquated machines of yesteryear at their annual High Country Crank-Up events. From hobbyists to avid collectors, all kinds of enthusiasts bring their rare, outmoded, and often beautiful machines to the Crank-Up in order to teach others about the history of pre-electrical technology. Antique cars, steam tractors, farm equipment, and much more are all on display at the Crank-Up.

            Event organizer Betty Hodges said of the event, “We’re gonna have all kinds of engines in operation, we have right many tractors, we have models, we have lawnmowers, we have a kiddy tractor-pull, and we have a parade of all the antique cars and tractors and things like that. We’ve got a sawmill in operation and a shingle-making machine, and just different things that were used before electricity.” The event will be catered by some of the vendors in attendance, and homemade ice cream will also be available.

When asked about the oldest machines at the event, Hodges said, “My husband has some [engines] that date 1915 or so – back in the early 1900s, and he says there’s some that go back to 1900. [Those are] hit-and-miss, throttle governor, steam engines, and steam tractors. We have some antique tools too, my nephew has a wonderful display of antique tools that were used back in the early days for T-models, A-models, early stuff like that.” Hodges also said that the John Deere tractors are consistent fan favorites each year.

            The Carolina Flywheelers meet each month to plan and improve upon the annual Crank-Up. Hodges explained that “The money that’s raised through admissions is used to do next year’s show and also for the needy people within our group.”

            This year’s special 40th anniversary Crank-Up will honor the surviving members of the original Carolina Flywheelers club. Event organizer Betty Hodges explained, “We have four members that were in the original club left living: they are Mac Hodges, John Hodges, Lynn Castle, and Raymond Scholl. They’re the original members – the only ones that are left. They’re gonna be honored this year.”

           Gates open at 9 am, and the event will be held from July 25th through the 27th at the field across from Laurel Springs Baptist Church on Hwy 421 South. As in previous years, general admission is $5 ($6 for a 2-day pass, $8 for a 3-day pass), kids under 12 years old get in free, and the Friday senior pass is $3. Check out the Carolina Flywheelers’ Facebook page for more information. Look forward to this year’s exciting unveiling of the technological marvels of the past!

Photos by Lonnie Webster of previous events: