Plainville, Indiana is a small town and it’s been that way for a long time. There is no evidence to support that the population of 536 will be mushrooming any time soon. Go to Plainville, IN onTripAdvisor.com and notice there are no listings under the headings of Lodging, Things to Do, and Restaurants, even though the Iron Kettle has been there for some time and serves a tasty lunch.
Years ago, Plainville had the usual assortment of buildings along Main Street that you would find in a farming community: bank, grocery, hardware, post office, machine shop, and grain elevator. Main Street was made thoughtfully broad to accommodate tractors with wide implements. Today, there is little activity on Main Street. The Post Office building has been replaced by a set of individual aluminum boxes similar to what you might find at the entrance to an apartment building. The bank building is still standing, converted to a scarcely used office on the ground floor complete with a very impressive Mosler cannonball safe, which weighs over 6,000 pounds, and an apartment on the second floor. L. J.’s welding shop is open when the owner decides. The grain elevator and machine shop are the only two businesses that could be categorized as “thriving.”
The most interesting business in the heart of town has got to be Baker Bike Works, LLC. It occupies prime real estate at the corner of Highway 57 and Main. You’re probably thinking, “What’s so interesting about a small town motorcycle shop?” As you often hear on infomercials, but wait, there’s more! George Baker, the owner, has interests that extend way beyond the sale and maintenance of cycles and ATV’s.
Approaching the building, you’ll notice an old bicycle for sale in the front window. Stepping inside, you see a motorcycle in the middle of floor, but what catches your eye is the eight-lane, two level slot car track that runs the length of the front part of the store. To the right of the cycle is a slot car drag strip and, on a separate table, another track for smaller scale vehicles. Wandering past the tracks, you will also see a number of musical instruments, amplifiers, and guns, in addition to the helmets and motorcycle parts you would expect to find. The back of George’s enterprise houses the maintenance shop where his two mechanics are working.
A couple of bikers from a neighboring town drop by while I’m there and George spends quite a bit of time talking to them about motorcycling and a mechanical issue one of the guys is having with his ride. Like much of life in Plainville, there doesn’t seem to be a sense of urgency to the discussion or the bike problem. The conversation draws to a close, the riders get back on their bikes, leave, and George is ready to call it a day around 3:30, leaving his mechanics to close the shop.
George was very hospitable and I appreciated his willingness to let me take a few pictures around his shop. I never expected to find anything like this in Plainville…or anywhere else.