A New Astronomy Club Is Founded: The Cleveland County Astronomical Society, Boiling Springs, NC

This picture was made on a weekday afternoon in the summer of 1987 at Simmons Air Field, located a few miles south of Polkville, North Carolina. The grass landing strip provided the first dark-site for club observing

We had our meetings at that time in the basement of the Lutheran Church in Shelby, then we moved to the old courthouse, now known as the Earl Scruggs Center. 

In the early 90’s, we would begin having our meetings at the Williams Observatory, on campus of Gardner-Webb University.


That’s me in the right-center, not looking at the camera.  I rode my bicycle for the photo, with a T-shirt tucked in my cycling jersey back-pocket.

The youngest guy in the picture, is my son, Brad.  He is now in his mid-40’s (2021) and living in the desert southwest. 

The Polkville Airstrip in the day…



The Regional Meeting of Amateur Astronomers:

Tom English (L) myself (C) and Don Olive during one the Regional Meetings of Amateur Astronomer’s at Gardner-Webb University.  The club hosted this event for almost 25 years.


More information concerning the astronomy club as provided by Tom English: 

My first introduction to the CCAS was shortly after I was hired at Gardner-Webb College in fall 1989 (it became a University later) when G-W Biology/Geology Professor Les Brown told me that Ken Vassy had contacted him and asked him to relay to the new astronomer(me) that Ken was reviving the club and holding meetings in his classroom at Cleveland Community College.  So sometime in the fall of 1989, I went over there to meet him before I actually attended a meeting.  Ken was quite a character, and he was excited about getting the club back in business.

The original CCAS followed in the wake of Comet Halley, as did so many astronomy clubs in the U.S. in the 1980s. Paul Webb was the driving force behind the club.  When Paul moved to South Carolina, the CCAS lost its impetus, and quickly ceased operations.  With plans underway to build a campus observatory at Gardner-Webb, Ken saw an opportunity to resurrect the club. 

CCAS past presidents and officers:  (photo taken in about the mid 90’s) 

Back row left to right:  Brett Clapper, Tom English, Paul Webb:   Front row left to right:  BoB Eskridge, Ken Vassy, Roger Ivester, Tom Lorenzin, Steve Davis

Lost Arrow Ranch” and a tribute to Mike Price:

The CCAS also had a dark-site in Rutherford County in later years. It was known as the “Slab” to the astronomy community, named so, for a concrete patio…apparently from an old house, that occupied the location at one time.

The following is a photo of Mike Price, who passed away, Friday (December 17th 2021)

Mike considered himself only the caretaker of more than 1,500 beautiful and mostly untouched acres, given the name “Lost Arrow Ranch.” It is a truly a dark-site, perfect for astronomical observations and for those seeking quiet and refuge from the modern day world.

He was a pilot and owned his own aerobatic plane. Before one of our observing sessions, he gave us an exhibition of his flying skills. All I can say…AMAZING!

Mike and Jackie are honorary members of the Cleveland County Astronomical Society (CCAS).

An observing event at “Lost Arrow Ranchin 2016: Barre Spencer (passed away in 2022) and me.

Jackie Price and Bob Eskridge

Brett Clapper, and others eating at the pavillion at “Lost Arrow Ranch”

Mike and Jackie cooking:

Debbie Ivester with Mike and Jackie’s dog. (2016)

Mike Price Obituary:


Supplemental photos of the observing area, made today (Tuesday, December 21st)

The concrete “Slab” where we once observed from, but later moved a few hundred yards to the “Hill” which allowed for a better view of the East and Western sky.

The “Observing Hill” where we would set-up telescopes in “more” recent times:

Satellite view of the observing area via Google Maps. The “observing hill” is to the left or the somewhat circular clearing and the “Slab” is the square toward the right.

Explore posts in the same categories: Roger's Articles

%d bloggers like this: