Bourbon Sesquicentennial

Trucking Industry

By E. P. Smith

(Editors note: This article first appeared in the News Mirror on Jan. 14, 1965)

When the first settlers came to the Bourbon area they found it covered with dense hardwood forests. Bourbon was known as one of the important lumber shipping points on the old P.F.W. and C.R.R. and local sawmills provided the chief source of employment until the mills closed in the 1930s. But, as the timber disappeared, farming grew and the area became noted for its livestock raising and shipping. As late as the early 1930s, the stockyards were a busy place and the railroad was the life stream of the community.

Now there are no passenger trains, no depot, no tower, and no stock cars on the siding. It has been replaced and today Bourbon is known for its extensive livestock hauling industry.

In 1940, or perhaps a little earlier, the late Edward Ecker started to haul livestock by truck, in a trailer which he built himself. The business grew rapidly. Among his earlier employees were Duane Everly, George Reichert, Lewis Gochenour, Jay Bates and Mrs. Faith Shearer.

Today Mrs. Shearer owns and operates the Ecker Livestock Trucking Company, being the only women in the U.S. doing so. And each of the others named started a company of his own – they started small and grew rapidly. At present there are four companies, George Reichert having sold his business to Lewis Gochenour this last December.

When one visits these establishments, sees the amount of equipment, the number of employees, and the work and planning involved, he begins to realize its size and importance. In order to give some idea of this, a few combined statistics are given.

Altogether the four companies operate 25 outfits or "rigs" for livestock hauling. (The Ecker Co. also hauls and spreads lime for farms.) They travel a combined total as high as 69,000 miles per week. The list of cities involved covers an area from Detroit and Chicago to New Jersey to Virginia to Florida.

The total number of employees is 40, practically all with families in the community. One operator is very proud of the fact that all of his employees own their own homes.

When you talk to these people and hear them mention telephone bills of $200 per month, or thousands of gallons of fuel per week, or $30,000 for a new rig, you get some idea of the expenditures involved in the trucking industry.

Some gather local livestock and haul it to market, or return feeder stock to the area but most of the service involves long distance hauling. Some typical trips by the different companies are as follows: an empty rig leaves Bourbon at noon for Chicago, loads there, returns at once, checks, changes drivers, and goes on to Massillon, Ohio, returns, checks and changes drivers and goes back to Chicago, back to Massillon, etc. This run may be made 50 times per week.

Another goes to Chicago, loads hogs, takes the toll road all the way to Bayway, N.J. or perhaps to Pittsburgh or one of the Virginia markets.

Another takes fat cattle from Chicago to Knoxville or Atlanta and returns a load of other cattle to Chicago. Another may pick up a load of local stock, take it to Chicago, take a load from there to Canton, Detroit or one of the other cities named, returning another load to Chicago.

These are typical runs. Obviously there is great variation depending upon destination and other factors. Tractors have to be fueled and serviced, driver’s hours and schedules are regulated and must be observed. Sometimes stock must be watered, fed and rested.

One company has facilities for more than 300 cattle, others use the stockyards. The trailers must be cleaned and washed. They maintain their own facilities for mechanical work and servicing the tractors.

The next time you meet a stock truck on the highway, you may think of it as "just another truck." Well, it is, but it is also part of a big and important industry to the town of Bourbon. It is also an excellent example of the economy of a community adapting itself to the changing conditions brought about by the still continuing industrial revolution.

Louie Gochenour was one of the Bourbon area men who took up pony racing. The following tributes were written by friends.

This issue of the Trottingbred magazine is dedicated to the Memory of Lewis Gochenour. Mr. Gochenour gave his knowledge, fairness and expertise to the promotion and progress of Trottingbred Racing. The magazine received the following two memoriam dedications for Mr. Gochenour. He will be greatly missed by all his friends in and out of racing.

A major promoter of Trottingbred harness racing and the developer of the Gochenour Measuring Device, Lewis D. Gochenour, age 57, of Bourbon, Indiana died January 29, 1984.

Mr. Gochenour, veteran of World War II and retired owner of Gochenour Trucking, Inc., was a member of the Midwestern Big Four, Nappanee Raceway, Inc., and was a participant in organizing the merger of Indiana-Ohio-Michigan and Illinois (IOMI) with International Trotting and Pacing Association (ITPA) in the seventies. He was awarded the Sportsmanship Trophy of 1983 by the Midwestern Big Four.

Louie started with what was then called Miniature Harness Racing 25 years ago at 1959 in Rochester, In. He had been raising ponies and decided to see if he could get one to pace. He trained at the Bourbon, In. fair track and picked up ideas from Standardbred horsemen there.

He developed the electric measuring device which was adopted by vote of the membership of the ITPA for use beginning with the 1982 racing season. The Gochenour Measuring Device consists of a metal post cemented at the bottom with rings that can be set at 50 ˝ and 51 ˝ inches high. The crossbar unit fits over the post at the required height and lies across the horse’s withers. A contact breaker switch turns off the light when the horse measures in.

Louie always supported implementation of better racing rules and because of that interest, the Gochenour Measuring Device was developed. He spent numerous hours reading and experimenting before building the present device now used by virtually all Trottingbred clubs and organizations in I.T.P.A. He said, when presenting the unit for measuring horses, that he felt it would be fair to all.

One of Louie’s top horses was L.D. Timmie, who paced in 1:17 many years ago. L.D. Timmie is the sire of all the L.D. horses racing in the Midwest, that fastest of which is L.D. Sum with a time of 1:05.

Louie was a participant in organizing and developing Nappanee, Inc., raceway in 1976 and 1977. He helped lay out and build the track, furnished the hub rail and helped to build the first horse barn. Mr. Gochenour held offices in the Nappanee Club, IOMI, and was a Midwestern Big Four Director, in addition to developing the measuring device.

He will be greatly missed by all his friends.

By Ernest Eschbach, N. Manchester, In.

This is in memory of a man who over the years helped the growing sport of miniature harness racing become one of the favorite sports and pasttimes of the local communities of Northern Indiana.

This gentleman always had a smile awaiting anyone who confronted him. He was a man with many friends, many of whom were close to him and his lovely wife. In 1983, the members of the Big 4 voted him into the Hall of Fame. He was presented with a beautiful plaque.

Over the past few years, his health had been decreasing, but he was still a faithful attender at the 1983 race meets. Then in January, his health slipped more rapidly than ever and God called one of our dearest friend’s home. The man I’ve been speaking of in Lewis Gochenour.

Louie understood many of the problems faced by the racing association and was always one of the first to face and solve them. He decided it was time to modernize along with the rapidly growing Standardbred racing sport. He looked at the mobile starting car and designed and installed his own gate on the back of a car using hydraulics to draw and extend the gates. In the seventies, he skillfully designed and made a measuring device to measure our ponies. He presented it to several clubs and it was adopted by the Big 4. Later if became the official measuring method for the I.T.P.A.

Louie also helped improve the quality of our ponies. He raised and raced one of the top producing sires in the Midwest, Tanglewood Timmie. He raced many foals by Timmy, some of whom are on the top of the 1983 championship lists. Louie was always a tough, fair, and enjoyable competitor to race with.

By Steve Cross, Middlebury, In.

Everly Trucking was one of the local trucking companies that hauled cattle and hogs to the Chicago Stockyards. Duane Everly owned the company.

Jay Bates Trucking was one of the livestock haulers of the Bourbon area. Bates' business has grown into Bates Corp. and is currently located on Elm Rd. No longer hauling livestock, the family owned business is now a parts distributorship.

Louie Gochenour owned a fleet of Mack trucks in the 1950’s and 1960’s and hauled cattle in double deck trailers. Louie’s brother, Loren, chose an International truck and trimmed it in white to differentiate his truck from the fleet.

Skip Jackson was a driver for George Reichert Trucking.

Trucking-Ecker Trucking-Bob Jacobs on truck

Bob Jacobs is the lead Ecker driver while waiting to load cattle at the Harold Miller farm on 8th Rd. The cattle are bound for Cleveland.

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