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 to Oregon mechanized transportation of both people and goods.
The introduction of powered equipment, apparatus and vehicles was destined to change our lives forever. Powerland Heritage Park is a “museum of museums” dedicated to preserving and interpreting that period.