Before Antique Powerland was established, there were annual threshing bees held on farms in the Silverton and Woodburn areas in the 1950’s and ‘60’s. Each fall, local farmers would get together for a weekend to test “the mettle” of their farm tractors and show off heritage apparatus.
The public was attracted to these events and attendance rapidly grew. To accommodate the growth, a 62 acre parcel of farm land was acquired in Brooks, Oregon. Western Antique Powerland, Inc. (WAPI) was born and its annual event became known as the “The Great Oregon Steam-Up”.
In the beginning, the Show was primarily steam apparatus, farm tractors, implements, and stationary gas engines. Only a small portion of the property was used for the event; the remainder was being farmed. However, change was destined to take place!
In 1988, when a site was needed for a proposed heritage truck museum in the Northwest, Powerland became the location of choice. Oregon Electric Railway Historical Society followed in 1996, and the Antique Powerland Museum of today was launched.
Participation by a diverse set of museums and heritage clubs has grown over the years to now include fifteen organizations with a wide range of interests. Included are activities related to blacksmithing, fire apparatus, electric railroads, miniature railroading, Caterpillar equipment, antique cars and motorcycles, early day trucks, large steam engines, steam operated cranes, model railroading, and local history.
Powerland’s focus is on the operation of antique machinery and vehicles, accurately replicating their function and use. Through the equipment, Powerland displays and demonstrates life and work in the period of Oregon’s early growth and development. Frequently, the restored equipment is that which was used in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.
It was a time when steam ran the mills and generated electricity. Flywheel engines pumped water, operated bridges, and powered industry, and the farm tractor mechanized agriculture. The car and truck joined the electric street car and steam train in bringing mechanized transportation of both people and goods to Oregon .
The introduction of powered equipment, apparatus, and vehicles was destined to change our lives forever. Powerland is a “museum of museums” dedicated to preserving and interpreting that period.
All apparatus at Powerland is preserved and operated for the education and enjoyment of the visitor, student, and enthusiast alike. Powerland offers every person the opportunity to participate in the many activities and functions, to learn how to operate the equipment, and experience heritage at work first hand. Classes are routinely offered in engine restoration and steam equipment operation. A series on early electricity is planned and vehicle restoration seminars are often included in site activities. The museum site and the many partners are dedicated to continued improvement in authenticity.
Our goal is to engage all ages in developing a desire to become interested in their own history and function as stewards of heritage. In addition to individual site visits, group tours are encouraged, particularly school tours.
Management and Operations
Powerland is owned by Western Antique Power, Inc. and operated by the Antique Powerland Museum Association, which was set up as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation to manage and develop the site. APMA utilizes an extensive committee structure to ensure that partner organizations are actively represented in all phases of decision making and operations. Committee assignments include planning, site operations, and joint development.
Powerland is a community of heritage museum organizations working together toward shared goals in addition to conducting separate activities in keeping with their respective missions. Successes have included the provision of infrastructure and utility services needed to support building construction and planned activities.