Wednesday, August 17, 2011
C.A. Smith the Tri-State Area’s Howard Hughes
When the image above was posted on Facebook’s “You grew up in Chester or Lawrenceville if you remember...” page, I commented, “It's like the ‘Spruce Goose’ of cattle barns.” A neighbor of mine from Chester responded, “C.A. Smith - the Howard Hughes of the Tri-State Area!”
The "Spruce Goose" was Hughes's monumental failure, a heavy transport aircraft made almost entirely of birch rather than spruce as the name implies. Smith's cattle farm was anything but.
The image is from the collection of Sayre W. Graham, Sr. and was uploaded to FB by his son Sayre, Jr., who gave me permission to share it on my blog. I thought it a great way to remind readers of C.A. Smith’s second or perhaps third or fourth career after oil, rail, and Rock Springs Park, his beloved Hillcrest Farms and his prized bulls.
Like Howard Hughes of Texas, Smith did more in his lifetime to bring fame to our area than all the other developers combined. Smith’s Hillcrest Farms were known the world over and brought thousands of people to the area. He served as president of the Hereford Association of America.
The huge Cattle Barn was located along present day “Smith Road” near Route 8 in New Cumberland, WV. One Facebook contributor from Chester noted, “This was right above my house years ago. Only thing still standing is the silo. It was a beautiful place in its day. The State bought the property several years ago and it is now state game lands.”
Roy C. Cashdollar noted in his History of Chester:
Picturesque Hillcrest Farms, which was Smith's principal interest the last ten years of his life, took form in 1917. He went into the Hereford cattle business in 1918 and began producing the championship stock. The herd at one time numbered seven hundred head.
From Hillcrest came a grand champion bull of the Chicago International Livestock Exposition in 1947, 1949, and 1951 and the grand champion finale at Chicago in 1950 and 1951. Grand champions also paraded before judges at the Baltimore and Kansas City shows and others. Smith had the "best ten head" at Chicago in 1948, 1949, 1950 and 1951.
In 1950, Smith sold one of his prize bulls to Henry Sears of Chestertown, Maryland for $70,500, a record price at that time. In January of 1951, a world’s record was set when a half interest in his main breeding bull - HC Larry Domino 12th, was sold for $105,000, to E. C. McCormick, Jr. of Akron. Mr. Smith also had one thousand acres set aside for apple growing.