Railsplitting Festival ends with
National Splitting Contest and traditions
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[September 18, 2017]
On Sunday afternoon the Abraham Lincoln National Railsplitting
Festival continued at Postville Courthouse and Postville Park, along
with activities at the Cronin Brothers VFW.
At the courthouse, right after the lunch hour five teams enjoyed
participating in a water boiling contest. The teams were expected to
start a fire using kindling from small pieces of wood provided, what
they had nearby such as leaves, and bring it to a hot blaze. An iron
cooking grate was over the fire. Once the blaze was high, a large
tin can full of water was set atop the grate, and everyone waited to
see which tin can would come to a full rolling boil first.
The teams used different tactics to increase the speed of the boil.
Some took hard wood and created a wall around their tin, working to
funnel the heat to the water. Others depended on their very large
fire to do the work, and some up a piece of wood over the opening of
the tin to keep the heat from escaping.
The first team to bring their water to a full rolling boil was
Jackson and Rebecca Johnson and David Carter. The winners received a
certificate showing their first place finish.
After the fires had been put out and the area cleared, the Junior
Railsplitting contest was next. This contest is designated for
youngsters under the age of 16 years old. Within the group of
competitors this year, there were some who were close to that
cut-off age, and others who were quite a bit younger. To make it
fair for everyone, the older contestants were required to split
their log into four rails, while the younger kids were asked to cut
their piece of wood into three rails.
Competitors for this event were Dean Tenvey of Franklin, Indiana;
Corbin Vannoy of Bloomington; Ronnie Alley, Lyndsi Alley, Austyn
Huskins, all of Lincoln; and Trevor Wimberly of German Town.
Heidi Mueller served as the announcer and also the time keeper for
the event. She walked about the field watching and encouraging the
contestants. The contestants had the option of having a coach during
the event, which was a person who had experience in rail splitting
and could give pointers to the kids.
The first place winner was Corbin Vannoy, who split four rails in
three minutes 30 seconds. Second place was Trevor Wimberly with four
rails in four minutes 30 seconds. Dean Tenvy took third with two
rails in five minutes 54 seconds. Austyn Huskins completed the
competition with a time of six minutes 15 seconds for two rails. Of
the brother and sister competitors, Lyndsi and Ronnie Alley, Lyndsi
won out on that personal competition with four rails in seven
minutes and 40 seconds and her brother did four rails in eight
minutes 55 seconds. The winner received a certificate and all the
kids received participation ribbons.
After a short break to clean the field and set new logs, the final
event of the day drew near. Before the national competition, Bob
Rankin served as the narrator for the re-christening of the city of
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As Rankin read the narrative, Abraham Lincoln interpreter Gray
Simpkins cut the watermelon and squeezed juice into a tin cup. He then
“christened’ the town pouring the juice of the melon on the ground.
Afterward, Mr. Lincoln cut up the watermelon, and the first piece
was delivered to Marjory Ott, wife of the late Charlie Ott. Rankin offered a
brief comment about the passing of Ott this summer, and how Ott was for many
years the Lincoln community’s own (impersonator of) Mr. Lincoln. He then asked
that everyone observe a moment of silence in memory of Charlie Ott.
Local vocalist Lesleigh Bennett sang the National Anthem, then
the contestants for the final competition of the year got to it.
Vying for the title this year were Jonathon Norin of LeRoy, Cody Freidlein of
Bloomington, Chris Freidlein of Gibson City, Bob Rankin of New Holland, Travis
Pilchard of Downs, and Evan Coombs of Bloomington.
Once again this year, Chris Freidlein made quick work of splitting the log into
eight rails, with a time of only three minutes 48 seconds. Freidlein beat out
the second best competitor by almost seven minutes.
Second place went to Jonathon Norin with 10 minutes 16 seconds, third was Cory
Freidlein with 10 minutes 33 seconds, and the fourth and final paying place was
Evan Coombs with 16 minutes 39 seconds.
For this event, Darius Knauer served as the announcer urging the contestants on,
and also urging the audience to cheer and offer their own encouragement to their
favorite competitor. When the event was over, the prizes were handed out by Mr.
With the final competition of this year’s festival concluded, Bob Rankin offered
a few closing words. He said they would love to someday see a winner of this
competition from Lincoln or Logan County. He noted that the organization has
been around for well over 40 years, and the group is always looking for new
members. Anyone who wants to take part in Association activities iss welcome to
come and speak with him. He said those who want to learn to split rails can be
taught by Association members.
He also noted that the Association will be splitting rails for Lincoln College
soon, so it would be a good time for new members to come and get acquainted with
the Association and the art of rail splitting.
The Association also sells split rails, some even from today. Anyone who would
like to purchase rails can contact Rankin or other Association members.