In 2000 Ken Reed and friends approached the Hanover-Horton Area Historical Society with a bold proposal. Eighty-two plus acres of farmland adjacent to the museum had recently been listed for sale. The idea was to undertake a massive community fund-raising drive to raise the $180,000 needed to purchase this land. The land owner graciously cooperated allowing the men two years to raise the funds. The fund-raising goals were met and the land purchased. The tract of land was named Heritage Park and dedicated in 2002.
Almost immediately the Society began holding events in the Park and began, through the substantial efforts of a dedicated volunteer group, to make improvements. These improvements included the following major additions:
Every year additional projects, big and small, are undertaken at Heritage Park. Recent projects include the addition of a 32 ft. x 10 ft. lumber drying shed, Emily's Peanut Patch, an early vegetable bed, a pumpkin patch, and a 40 ft. gourd arch was made with gourds from our own gourd patch.
The number and scope of events held at the park have expanded continually. Please look at our yearly calander to see the many events held at Heritage Park and the Event Center.
This is a “Geisen Sawmill” built by the Emmerson Braningham Company of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania in the early 1900’s. Its husk has a dual friction carriage drive. The blade is 46 inches in diameter with the saw arbor riding on Babbitt bearings. The carriage was made by the A.B. Farquhar Company, Ltd of York, Pennsylvania and is 12 foot long with three knee blocks and travels on 45 feet of steel rail. John & Lina Pardee of Concord, Michigan, donated the sawmill to the Park in 2008. It was restored by many volunteers and made operational in 2009. The pavilion was added in 2010 and improvements continue on a daily basis. If you haven’t seen and heard this piece of history run, you are in for a treat. The sights and sounds of this fully operational turn of the century saw mill transport the viewer back to an era when Michigan’s lumber industry was in its prime.
To complete the exhibit, a vintage planer and a drying shed for the sawn lumber were added. The dried lumber is used for projects at the park such as the Sugar Shack.
2017 Dates of Operation - TBA
Hanover-Horton Area Historical Society has an authentic working Maple Sugar Shack on the grounds of Heritage Park. In 2013 a member donated old parts from a sugar shack that had been used in his family for more than 50 years (some of the equipment was more than 120 years old.) This was the beginning of a project that would unite volunteers, help build a coalition with our schools, and become a fundraiser for the HHAHS.
Using a building plan from the University of Vermont, many volunteers built the sugar shack with wood that was cut from Society members' land and sawn on our antique sawmill! Using old-fashioned methods like tenon and mortise put together with wood pins construction, the volunteers worked weeks having something like an old-fashioned barn raising. Constructing the building was a great way for the volunteers to get to know each other and have fun doing it. The building was constructed with donations of time and money from different members.
We produced more than 200 gallons of syrup in the first two years after its completion. It is operated solely with volunteer help and all proceeds from the syrup go to the HHAHS.
When the winter days become longer and the daytime temperatures are in the 40 degrees range while the nighttime temperatures are in the 20 degrees range for several days in a row, the sap begins flowing and the exciting process of making maple syrup begins. The whole process takes from three to eight weeks. This is the time when volunteers spend hours collecting sap, keeping the fire burning and sitting around the sugar shack telling stories and enjoying the whole process.
There is always need for more help. The work is sometimes hard, but very rewarding and it is a great way to get to know fellow community members. There is always food cooking on the fire or in a crockpot and always good company. Come visit the shack any day when the sap is flowing!
2017 Sugar Shack Dates
Rust N’ Dust Days Antique Tractor and Farm Show all began when Bill and Chuck Adams got a few guys together to promote his business and find out whose tractor could pull the heaviest load. Besides the tractor pull, activities included the threshing of wheat with a very old threshing machine, and some old farm equipment put on display. For the first eight years, the tractor pull was held at Adams Farms. The name Rust N’ Dust was suggested by Bill Adams and it stuck. From 1999 through 2001, it was held on the Tom and John Reed farm. Since 2002 Rust N’ Dust has been held at its present location, Heritage Park. The 83 acres purchase had not been finalized at that time. The Hanover-Horton Area Historical Society was approached with a plan to sponsor the tractor show and they agreed.
Rust N’ Dust was the first event held at the new Heritage Park. It has become one of the yearly premier events held at the Park. Rust N’ Dust activities include tractor pulls; “trash to treasure” sale; oat/wheat threshing (using the same old threshing machine); kids on the farm where kids can experience farm tasks such as milking, egg gathering, hay baling, and various leisure-time activities; saw mill demonstrations; shingle mill demonstrations, kids tractor pull (using a pedal tractor and small transfer sled); wagon rides hourly through the park; some old farm equipment on display; and lots of different music. Also there are some crafters, vendors and exhibitors that come. Every year the show adds new venders and attractions while keeping the old events intact.
Rust 'N Dust Photo Gallery
26th Annual Rust 'N Dust - August 26 - 27
Tractor pulls evolved from the days when farmers would compete with their team of horses to determine whose team was the best. It was a "Gentlemen’s Competition"; the winner gaining only "bragging rights". The tradition continued using tractors as tractors replaced horses on the farm.
A tractor pull was a part of the original Old Tractor Show held at the Adam’s Farm. When the Society began sponsoring Rust ‘N Dust, the pulls continued with a “dead weight” sled. The first year was on a makeshift track but by the second year at Heritage Park, the track had been refitted with an appropriate surface. A loud speaker system and an announcer joined the event. In 2013 substantial improvements were made to the track through a generous donation in the memory of Edwin Spink.
Today the pulls attract participants from areas as far away as Ohio and Indiana. There is an entry fee and tractors must be “farm stock” built prior to 1960. There are typically over 100 tractors participating each year. The Rust 'N Dust pulls are now held with a progressive sled. The winner of each division wins bragging rights and the obligation to provide donuts for the vanquished. The 4th of July pulls use the "dead weight" sled.
A Garden Tractor pull was added in 2015 and it has generated great interest. Over the years, the tractor pulls have been a real crowd pleaser. For complete rules, please contact the Society office at 517.563.8927 weekdays between 8:00 am and Noon.
2017 Pull Dates - July 4, August 26 - 27
About the third week in April, the Society’s fields are ready for plowing in preparation for the spring crops. Every year about 15 to 20 antique tractors converge at the Park to kick off the spring work. Nearly every make of old tractor and plow can be seen in action. The morning begins with a Community Pancake Breakfast at the Event Center. Then the participants plan out their plowing patterns and the work begins. About twenty acres are plowed that day while the participants and those who came to watch enjoy a day from our agricultural past.
2017 Spring Plow Date -TBA
Each year the Society creates a different Corn Maze covering about 15 acres. The pattern is planted with a planter equipped with GPS. Still, as the corn grows, some stray stalks must be removed from the maze pathways. Come October, the corn is tall enough to make the maze a challenging adventure. The proceeds from the Corn Maze help to support the Society.
2017 Corn Maze Dates
On a weekend in mid October you will find a group of people working around a strange looking machine and an open fire with a hanging 30-gallon cauldron of boiling greenish colored liquid. They are making Sweet Sorghum “Molasses”.
Society volunteers plant sorghum, which is a unique grain grass, in the early spring and harvest it in October. The grain, which forms at the top of the stalk, is removed as well as the leaves. The grain can be ground into flour or fed to poultry, while the leaves can be feed for cattle. The stalks are then cut and fed into a belt driven, steel roller sorghum press, which squeezes the green colored juice from the stalks. The “juice” is then boiled down to a thick, dark, syrup, which is called molasses in the south. The crushed stalks are also feed for cattle.
True molasses is actually made from sugar cane, but “Sweet Sorghum” became a substitute in early rural America. The finished product is bottled and made available for sale as a Society fundraiser. Come October, join us to help make or watch this old and almost lost method of producing “Sweet Sorghum”.
Meg’s Nature Trail is a beautiful, well-maintained walkway through the woods with many benches along the way. The Hanover-Horton Garden Club has planted thousands of native wildflowers to augment those already there, and it is our hope to have a beautiful display of color there in the spring along with the 100 Redbud trees the Society planted in 2015. If your interest is in bird watching, wildflowers, photography, solitude, or just the beauty of nature, give our nature trail a little of your time.
It must also be noted that the H-H Garden Club maintains the beautiful perennial gardens on the Society property.
Open sunrise to sunset