Instead of continuing to update separate links on this page, all new
photos are now accessible from our Gallery page, located here.
The links below still have photos but will no longer
be updated on a yearly basis and are replaced by the photos in the
1992, Durrell & Syndy took one look
at Pike County and they were immediately hooked. Their introduction
to the area came through a chance encounter with Tom Wombles at a Jamboree
in Kentucky. He told them that he was thinking of starting a Jeep Club
in Illinois and wondered if they were interested in joining. As they
say, the rest is history.
Durrell and Syndy lived in Wheaton, IL with their two sons, Emory and
Devin. They began traveling the 250 miles to Pike County to attend trailbuilding
weekends back when they were still called 'work' weekends 'cause that's
all we did! They quickly decided that they needed a piece of property
in the area to call their own. With two growing teenage boys, living
in the city didn't offer much room to play so Tom Wombles started looking
around and after a couple scouting trips, in February 1995, he introduced
them to what is now called TNT Farm nestled in the midst of a growing
Amish community. It may have been the beauty of the property with it's
rolling hills, natural springs, Indian mounds and 6 Mile Creek, but
rumor has it that the deal was done when Durrell (an avid
hunter) saw a Pope & Young deer jump up in front of them on that
When they first purchased the farm, it had been vacant for over 20 years
with the exception of hogs. There was an old homestead on the hill in
front of the bunkhouse that was so decrepit the rats, coons and snakes
had long since taken over. Garbage was abundant with scrap vehicles,
farming equipment and trash strewn everywhere. The first year saw a
transformation from garbage dump to what is now the pristine environment
that they frequent nearly every weekend.
It didn't take long before trailbuilding began with the original trail
ride in March of 1995. Durrell & Syndy, the original 'Tough Nuts',
out with Moonbuggy, Rooster, and a couple others in tow. They blazed
around the north hill following the property line through the woods
and across obstacles now known as the Roller Coaster and Ball Breaker.
The trails around the south end of the property were next.
Up and around the Loop-d-loop, through the Dippy Doo, back to Winch
Hill, over the Indian Mounds, and down Tucker Hill before traversing
the creek to the Washouts. Early on, the Washouts were run from south
to north until they washed out so bad a Jeep got too sideways and rolled
over. Nowadays, the trail is run in the opposite direction to ensure
no more tip-overs and the mud bogg on the opposite end is always a treat
for those with cameras. The trail over the Cabin Hill and down into
the little creek that runs parallel with the driveway was added later.
During a particularly ambitious spring trailbuilding weekend, Rooster
coordinated a crew to build the telephone pole bridge now know as Rooster's
Crossing. 6 Mile Creek divides TNT Farm in half and it has more than
a few challenges of it's own. Mud bogs, sand bars and trees are forever
moving with each heavy rain that hits the area. Every trip up the creek
is a new experience and often times more precarious than expected. More
than a few Jeeps have gone for a swim in waters deeper than intended.
The west side of 6 Mile Creek is home to Thunder Run. This trail was
built three years ago when Tough Nuts and Rooster went out looking for
a new challenge.
While they still call Wheaton their 'home', Durrell and Syndy are often
seen travelling the country pulling a custom built Jeep Scrambler behind
their motorhome to experience other wheeling opportunities. Both their
sons are still actively involved in Jeeping with rigs of their own.
Emory is now married and has a baby to ride shotgun in his red YJ, and
Devin's green TJ is definitely at 'chick magnet' at the high school
where he will be a Junior next year.
After 6 years of guiding Black Oak Run, Durrell and Syndy have officially
handed the reigns over to Bob Mikrut (Rooster) and Mike Keller (Mikey).
While they are ever-present on their trail, Durrell and Syndy prefer
the role of 'tour guide' rather than 'trail guide' these days. There
are still plenty of challenging areas on their 280 acre farm to build
additional trails and the Tough Nuts Team has a few ideas in mind. Anyone
wishing to tackle the trailblazing task is welcome to give them a call
to coordinate a 'work' weekend!