From Farm Equipment to Community Hub

The Story of the Tractor Bar

In 1992, I was working for a mine machinery manufacturing company and had become pretty dissatisfied with the ways things were going. I heard about the Mt. Nebo Farm Equipment dealership being for sale and decided to try to buy it. I sold my house and was able to put a down payment together to buy the dealership. Long story short, in six years, I was broke and a Lincoln town car filled with pin stripe suits was there to begin the foreclosure process. I was about three months behind at the bank and in really big trouble with the line of credit they had extended me.

Sid Valentine, a friend from my coal mining days, suggested that I put in a bar. I had looked at various businesses, trying to save the property and my equity. Everything I thought of required inventory or investment – but I had no money! The bar idea was pretty much a joke. The more I looked at it, the more I realized, of all the options, this idea had the most promise. But first, the bank. I had to get some reprieve from the bank to accommodate the time required to turn a farm equipment dealership into a bar. I got all the tools together that were not absolutely needed. These included all the special tools collected over the years – dynamometer, engine boring machine, valve grinder, you name it – we had it all. I sold these at a price well below their value to another dealer. I picked up enough cash to pay the bank and to give myself about 60 days of breathing room.

The first step was to convert the office and the parts room into a kitchen and walk-in cooler. The bar was built in what was the show room. I covered the walls with rough cut boards which I had on hand for building a shed out back. I fabricated bar stools out of old steel tractor seats and pipe. The 1919 Fordson steel wheeled tractor, which is now the bar’s center-piece, was sitting out back in the weeds. We hauled it inside, cleaned it up and painted it. It looked pretty good right in the middle of the room. To finish off the décor, all the old, rusted tools and implements laying around were hung on the walls. Larry and Faye Critchlow came every day to help with the construction and remodeling.
Now you’ve got to understand, there was no money to put in this thing. So stuff was made, traded for, donated, and obtained anyway possible in an effort to create a fun and presentable atmosphere. I bought an old beer cooler for $300 that had been sitting outside another bar for years. The bottom was rusted out. We patched it up and it operated for years. My friend, D.A. Gohil, provided the refrigeration equipment for the walk-in cooler, then came and installed it, no charge. That’s the kind of friends and neighbors I have.

I scraped together every penny I had for licensing fees and a small amount of beer to stock the cooler. The night I opened the bar, I had a liquor license, but there was no money to buy the liquor stock. My friends, rallied by Rob and Teresa Schaub, brought 4 or 5 bottles of liquor and bought it back from me to me help get started. I was able to go the next day and buy a couple more. Each day got better.
Without all of these people, whose friendship and generosity made this endeavor possible, I would have certainly met a dismal fate. Oh, by the way, the farm equipment dealership was called Mt. Nebo Tractor. One of the children questioned, “What will you call the bar, Mt. Nebo Bar and Tractor?” Consequently, that is the name under which I incorporated, and the public shortened it to The Tractor Bar.
The years have been kind to my business. We’ve been written up by three major newspapers in West Virginia. PBS did a piece with WV Mountain Stage, hosted by Larry Grose, and presented it from The Tractor Bar. GQ magazine published an article titled “The Dirty Dozen – Twelve of the Weirdest, Wackiest Bars in America Worth a Road Trip”. Proudly, our little, out of the way, Tractor Bar, which started out as a joke, made the cut.

The Mt. Nebo St. Patrick’s Parade was started here in 2005. The first year was just for fun, but the people came out and we recognized it as an opportunity to raise money for the community. It’s worked out pretty well. In 2006 we raised $1200 and gave it to the Bryan Richardson Scholarship Fund. The fundraising has grown every year. From $1200 in 2006 to $114,300 in 2023. We’re nearing a total of One Million dollars total raised through the years and returned to the community in the form of grants and scholarships.

I live in a terrific community with people who are willing to work and share. The Grand Order of Royal Leprechauns, a group of almost 700 now, help annually with the parade and all the events we hold to raise money. Everything we raise is given back through the grants and scholarship process. We now have Grand Order members not only from across the whole state of WV, but many other states.
So here we are, 25 years in and still kickin’. Loyal customers and traveling patrons alike have made the Tractor Bar a destination worth stopping by and enjoying a cold one. There aren’t many real American Road Houses left. We hope you’ll come to our neck of the woods and visit a dandy!