On Saturday, Oct. 2, the Highland Amateur Radio Association (HARA) will operate a special event station to call attention to the “World’s Largest Horseshoe Crab” that resides off of S.R. Route 124 at the eastern edge of Hillsboro.
According to the American Radio Relay League, a special event station is an amateur radio station that is temporarily operated to “help commemorate or promote a historic or other special event or attraction.”
HARA President Pat Hagen said that during the club’s 45 years of existence, HARA has operated several special event stations to call attention to the fun and public service amateur radio can offer while promoting local attractions nationwide. The club has operated past special event stations from the Highland County Fair, the Lynchburg Covered Bridge, Hillsboro’s 175th and 200th anniversaries, and from the Highland County Courthouse lawn.
Hagen stated the club was looking for something unusual to promote on the airwaves when a member suggested “Crabbie” — the “World’s Largest Horseshoe Crab.” Most members have seen “Crabbie”, but did not realize it is one of America’s most unusual roadside attractions and even has a presence on the internet and YouTube. Its history and how it ended up in Hillsboro is interesting.
The man-made crab, measuring 67 feet long, 28 feet wide and 12 feet high — not counting the tail that extends higher — is the brainchild of Hillsboro residents Ben and Darlene Sexton, who own a the property where the creature now rests.
“The reason we wanted to put it here, other than that I just loved it, was that I wanted to save it as the bit of Americana that it is,” Ben Sexton said shortly after it came to Hillsboro in 2015. “We felt that with our business — renting vintage campers — this would compliment that in that it creates that old-time Americana roadside attraction feel, and it would be an attraction to our business.”
Made of two layers of fiberglass with a foam core in between, the crab was originally created for The Columbus Center, a marine biotechnology research institute in Baltimore, Maryland. It opened in May of 1997 as an interactive Hall of Exploration attraction to entertain visitors while teaching them about marine life and the Chesapeake Bay, according to The New York Times.
At that time a multimedia presentation on sharks was shown inside the crab.
A couple years later the crab, or actually a picture of it on a T-shirt, was used in the movie “Eclipse” featuring Kristin Stewart and Robert Pattison.
In the mid 2000s it was moved to the Creation Museum in Hebron, Kentucky, but due its size the museum donated it in 2006 to the Freedom Worship Baptist Church in Blanchester.
That’s where it caught Sexton’s attention.
Following recent discussions with its Sexton, an agreement was made to activate the site as an amateur radio special event. On Oct. 2, HARA members will set up two stations and antennas at the site and make radio contacts with other amateur radio operators throughout North America and the world. Hams who make successful contacts can receive a special certificate, picturing and describing “Crabbie” as a memento of the occasion.
The public is invited to visit “Crabbie” that day from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. to observe amateur radio in operation as well as to learn more about the roadside attraction.
The Highland Amateur Radio Association is an organization of more than 140 Highland County people who are either FCC licensed ham radio operators and/or have an interest in electronics, computers and radio communications. More information about amateur radio is available at www.arrl.org or by contacting HARA Information Officer John Levo at 937-393-4951.
John Levo provided information for this story.