This year, for the first time, the contest took place during the
Logan County Fair.
Daris Knauer, founder of the Railsplitter event, now in its 43rd
year, was on hand and continues to help coordinate.
Each year, a re-enactment of Abraham Lincoln christening the city
of Lincoln is part of the activities. An important part of the local
heritage is that Lincoln was the first city named for Abraham
Lincoln before he became president. Knauer, looking dapper in his
suit, tie and hat of yesteryear -- about 1860 -- portrays Robert
Latham, a founding father of the city of Lincoln.
Daris Knauer's brother Dennis was also present to assist with the
activities. Another brother, Darrell, was unable to be in attendance
this year, and he was missed.
For the Friedlein family, it is the actual log splitting that
On Sunday, the Friedlein family dominated the competition field,
with Chris Friedlein taking this year's championship, his 12th
Chris comes from good stock, with his father, Oliver Friedlein,
taking one of the top three spots many times over the years. Today,
the amateur event that precedes the championship is named in
In addition to several of his sons competing, Chris has a young
grandson who stepped onto the field after the competition on Sunday,
just to sink a few wedges into a trunk. He'll need a few years of
growing yet, but given his solid striking style, you can bet he's
going to be strong competition when he gets there.
Running the show
On the production side of the event were family members: Heidi
Mueller, Bob Rankin and Gwen Tibbs.
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Mueller has been attending the Railsplitter since she was 12
years old. She now narrates the splitting competition, keeping fans
on top of who is doing what. In her acute understanding of the
intricacies of what each competitor might be experiencing as they
proceed, she keeps the audience interested. With 21 years under her
belt, the competition is in her blood.
By day, Heidi is a special education teacher in O'Fallon.
Heidi's dad, Bob Rankin, could be seen on the field, holding a
stopwatch and a scorecard, intently observing as a judge.
Bob's mom, Gwen Tibbs, was keeping records under the tent. Tibbs
is also the treasurer of the Logan Railsplitting Association.
Bob and Gwen couldn't be prouder of the great job Heidi does in
announcing the contest as it ensues.
The family travels out-of-state to at least two other log
splitting competitions each year: Lincoln Days, which takes place in
Hodgenville, Ky., Abraham Lincoln's birthplace, and the Ozark
Regional Timberfest in Doniphan, Mo.
As a family, they are all enthusiastic about promoting our
Abraham Lincoln heritage, community and splitting rails. They enjoy
all the camaraderie they have found and have made great friends
through the splitting events over the years.
These are just a few of the families for whom the National
Railsplitting Contest has become an important part of their lives.