East Tennessee Crank-Up

Jeffrey Norton oils a gear as his first cousin, Krystian Booher, and grandfather, Geoff Hutchings, watch during a previous Crank-Up.

Event pays homage to antique engines

ELIZABETHTON — Things got a little off schedule this year, but the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was not able to cancel the annual Crank-Up of the East Tennessee Antique Engine Association. The event will take place on Saturday.

The Crank-Up is usually held in early June, but the COVID-19 pandemic had practically shut all public gatherings at that time. The organizers said they were merely postponing the event and not canceling it.

Every year, some of the region’s best examples of antique engines fill the farm of Geoff Hutchings at 2045 Sciota Road, just on the Carter County side of the line between Carter and Unicoi counties.

There are plenty of examples of small engines and some very large ones also, including a 1,230-horsepower generator that once provided power to a private island off the Georgia coast. The island was owned by tobacco magnate R.J. Reynolds.

The displays include many unusual specimens from the 19th century, including equipment that helped to pump oil from the fields of Pennsylvania back when that state was one of the leading oil producers in the world.

The show will go on all day, as the fast pace of the age of COVID-19 gives way to the farms and fields that produced bounties without electricity or gasoline engines.