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Great Willys Picnic 2011

The Great Willys Picnic was held June 12th at the No. 9 Coal Mine & Museum in Lansford, PA. A good time was had by all with plenty of Willys vehicles in attendance some from as far away as North Carolina. Although there was a threat of rain the weather held out and some sun broke through to make for a perfect day. Along with the awesome Willys vehicles there was plenty of food, fun and music on hand. In addition to the vehicles on display there was a good turnout of vendors and other Willys enthusiasts selling parts in the vendor area.

One of the featured Willys Jeeps was "NellyBelle" Roy Rogers 1946 CJ-2A. The Jeep was featured on the Roy Rogers TV Show and was driven by his sidekick Pat Brady. "NellyBelle" is owned by Pam Weidel and John Haines, Pam has been a fan of Roy Rogers all her life. Pam an equine enthusiast set out to bid on Roy Rogers Silver saddle from the TV show at an auction in New York. While there Pam also fell in love with the CJ-2A known as "NellyBelle" which was also up for auction at the time. After consulting with her friend John Haines the two felt it was a great piece of Jeep and Roy Rogers history they just had to have and share with the public. Needless to say Pam did very well at the auction and was able to add Roy Rogers Silver saddle and "Nelly Belle" to the collection of Roy Rogers memorabilia. Thanks to Pam and John for saving this wonderful piece of Jeep and TV history. (see the pics of "NellyBelle" below)

Turns out Pam's friend John Haines is an aficionado of antique trucks and race cars. John houses one of the largest collections of race cars and trucks to be found in his museum in Pennsburg, PA. John is also active in the Antique Truck Club of America and has a fine collection of trucks he brings out to the ATCA annual show in Macungie, PA every year. Also thanks goes out to Art Cooper who prepped "NellyBelle" for the show. According to John, Art is the best when it comes to mechanicals and body work for restoring and preserving his fine collection of race cars and trucks. While speaking to Art and his wife Flo one understands quickly he is very passionate about his work.

It was hard to pick a favorite among the many gorgeous Willys vehicles on display but one beautiful red and white 62 Willys pickup owned and restored by Jimmy Atwell of North Carolina really stood out. The 62 sported a stock 6cyl. Tornado OHC engine which was also immaculately restored. Jimmy purchased the truck about 20 years ago and only really got serious about the restore 3 years ago. Jimmy did all the mechanicals and had a local body guy do all the paint and bodywork. Pictures of Jimmy's red and white pickup can be seen among the many pictures that follow.

In addition to the great display of Willys vehicles was the interesting setting of the No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum. They staff at the museum is always friendly and helpful. I wound up taking a tour of the Coal mine to experience what it must have been like for my grandfather to work in the coal mines of upstate PA. What a treat, the train takes you 1600' into the mountain that the No. 9 mine is carved out of. Then you get to exit the train and walk around on a guided tour inside the coal mine. Some of the more interesting features inside the mine are the 900' deep mine shaft and elevator, underground muleway, miner's hospital cut out of stone and another interesting piece of mining equipment used to transport coal coincidentally known as the "Go Devil" (see pictures included). Our guide was very knowledgeable and colorful making the tour a fun learning experience. The tour was also a great way to cool off as the mine was only 55deg. After the trip into the mine I took in the coal mining museum which was also fascinating to say the least. The mine is the oldest continuously operated anthracite coal mine (1855 - 1972) for more info visit

Enjoy the pics, see you at the next Jeep Show o|||||o

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