An incredible local gem and real piece of history sits in front of the Duff Quarry in Huntsville. It’s a crown jewel of iconic local pride and the flagship symbol of a Logan County company and local family.
The World’s Fair is an organization that obliviously thinks big and the Duff family also thinks big and does big things. They also give back in big ways to the community.
If you haven’t seen these two gigantic twin arches, then you probably have never driven on state Route 117 over by Hurley’s Farm Market. If you had, there is no way you could have missed these towering gems.
Wow, what a sight. The first time I drove past these mammoth structures I thought, what in the heck are these things, why are they here and how did they get there? But, I just kept driving in awe, unaware of the rich hidden history behind them.
Well, I’ve got the real story now. And man, is it cool! Everyone at Indian Lake needs to know the behind-the-scenes true history of these arches and now they will.
“They’re from the World’s Fair of 1964 that was held in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, New York,” said Scott Duff, Duff family patriarch of the Duff Quarry companies and CEO of Ohio Ready Mix. “There were 8 pairs of these arches used at various locations and entrances of the World’s Fair. They were used as informative kiosks and a destination gathering point for fair-goers,” added Duff.
General Foods built the structures for the World’s Fair and any remains are scattered throughout the northeast United States. Actually, there are only a few known to be in existence today that are fully intact, which include the two at Indian Lake. Those two made their way the furthest distance from the original World’s Fair site in New York.
“I was 8 years old at the time and was actually at that World’s Fair,” Duff recalled. “It was the year they had the famous “ Unisphere, Museum of Masterpieces and Walt Disney also unveiled his new ‘It’s a Small World Ride’ there.” said Duff. “They also built a Belgium Village at the Fair that year which is actually where the Belgium Waffle first originated.
Fifty million people attended the World’s Fair in 1964. “Literally millions of people would have walked through these two arches that are now located here at Duff Quarry and now dump trucks drive through them,” said Duff. Probably millions of tons of crushed material have been haul through them in the back of those dump trucks over the years.
How the arches got to Logan County
One must now wonder how those iconic arches ever made their way to the location they are now proudly standing, high in front of the Duff Quarry. Believe it or not, it goes back to the wonderful by-gone era and days of the famous amusement park at Indian Lake.
“A businessman named Anthony Guisliano, who owned the amusement park at Indian Lake at the time, purchased a merry-go-round and a wild mouse ride from the World’s Fair once it was over,” said Duff. “He also purchased a pair of the arches and had them brought in by railroad with plans for erecting them at his Indian Lake“Playland” Amusement Park. “Well, the arches ended up laying in weeds for nearly 20 years, in a field Mr. Guisliano owned.” added Duff.
“Mr Guisliano, who was a friend of my dad, also owned several Italian restaurants spotted around the lake. One day he and my father were eating dinner at one of those restaurants and he told my Dad that he could have both arches if he would just put them up, said Duff. “By then I was now in my 20’s and I remember that we got a flat bed semi-truck and went over there and pulled those arches up out of the weeds and hauled them back to the quarry where we proceeded to erect them in front of our quarry,” added Duff.
Since then the arches have been quite a roadside attraction and objects of much curiosity, wonder and admiration for many passers-by.
In recent years The Duffs have installed a “QuarryCam” web cam at the top of one the arches in order to get a birds-eye-view and security surveillance of their main quarry pit. Thus , connecting the glorious low-tech days of the past to the modern digital era. I wonder how many fair-goers back in 1964 imaged something called a webcam would ever be installed onto one of those arches at a quarry site? None I would guess, unless. a young Bill Gates may have passed through one of those arches at the fair at that time.
“I’m so glad we have these arches up and that my dad and Anthony Guisliano got together and worked out a deal to display them,” said Dave Duff, Scott’s brother and CEO of Duff Quarries. “We really love when people stop by to look at them and we welcome the public to come by, park in our lot and observe these wonderful structures up close and even take photos if they like,” he added.
Duff Quarry is one of the most advanced crushing operations in the US. The late James Duff, Scott and Dave’s father, was an Industrialist, Developer and the Founder of the Duff Quarry companies. He was a pioneer in the field. He a was great local businessman and generous philanthropist and member of the Indian Lake community.
His sons and grandchildren have carried on the great Duff legacy and tradition, since his passing in 2014, by expanding his companies, continuing community development, local restoration programs and by giving back to the community.
Ron Brohm is a regular contributor to this newspaper.