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Antique tractors roll into Ironton

Kenneth Lovejoy, of South Point, took curious note of the odd-looking engine in front of him.

“It’s a type of engine made years ago, but I don’t know what it is,” he said with an amused smile. “But I like them all.”

And Lovejoy wasn’t alone. Saturday a steady stream of people who enjoy antique engines and tractors streamed onto a field at the Ironton Hills Shopping Center to gaze at the treasures of others who share that same love of the machinery of yesteryear.

“It gets in your blood,” Don Mootz, of Kitts Hill explained.

Mootz and Lee Nance organize the event each year and Mootz may have a point: He and his son, Tim, brought several of their antique pieces to the show, one of which was a 1966 John Deere lawnmower that had been converted into a tractor and Tim’s son, Daniel, 5, got to ride around on it. Like father, like son.

Not far away from the gasoline powered engines, a group of small children took turns on a much tinier tractor operated with an entirely different kind of power: the human kind.

Lou Ann and Jim Short of Ironton brought two grandchildren and a niece to the show and the kids, naturally, found the pedal power to their liking.

“I’m a farmer at heart,” Jim Short said as he watched the goings-on. “I was raised on a farm out on Leatherwood. That was many years ago.”

It was their first year attending the tractor show.

“He likes the tractors best but the kids just want to look at everything,” Lou Ann Short said with a laugh.

Elwin Murtz and his wife, Sharon, of Advance, N.C., brought a small tractor he had made. The tractor had a pulley that allowed its engine to be used for other farm purposes, such as grinding corn when attached to a small mill.

As it turned out, the piece of equipment Lovejoy was interested in was an early model standard farm engine that could be attached to a pulley, much like Murtz’ tractor engine, and used to operate other equipment, Don Mootz explained.

“It came from a farm in Linnville,” Don Mootz said. “It was used on a dairy farm by the Fliehmann family. You could attach a pulley and grind feed for cattle.” The engine is now in Nance’s collection.

What is it about these old engines and farm machinery that Murtz and his fellow antique enthusiasts like so much that they come each year to gaze and discuss and reminisce?

“It’s real,” Murtz said. “No computers, just basic technology. And it’s just as valid today as it was back in the 20s and 30s.”