History of Powerland Heritage Park

This year’s conclave will be held at a very unique facility – Powerland Heritage Park. Why Powerland? Well besides it being a prime location right off of Interstate 5, the property hosts a collection of museums showcasing the rich history and evolution of power equipment. 

Powerland Heritage Park, formerly known as Antique Powerland, is a 62-acre park located in Brooks, Oregon, just north of the Salem-Keizer area. The property was originally acquired to accommodate the large public crowds that attended “threshing bees” on farms throughout the northern Willamette Valley. Threshing is the process of separating out the edible parts of a crop (such as grains) from the straw it is attached to. Back when farmers were using hand and steam-powered machines to harvest their crops, threshing had to be done by hand. Threshing bees, also known as threshing festivals, were a time when local people gathered to help the threshing process. They grew into large gatherings, bringing in more and more people each year. As technology improved, the need for threshing crops was no longer needed but threshing bees continued to be popular annual festivals to commemorate the past and may include activities, markets, and more. Western Antique Power Inc. (WAPI) was created to own and manage the property and ensure the annual event continued. This event, now known as The Great Oregon Steam-Up continues to be held on the property today. 

In 1988, Powerland Heritage Park become the site for a new heritage truck museum in the northwest. The next museum to arrive was the Oregon Electric Railway Historical Society in 1996. Since then, several museums have made Powerland Heritage Park home and the park is dedicated to the preservation, restoration, and demonstration of steam-powered equipment and antique farm machinery. The current structure of the park has been in operation since 1996. 

The Great Oregon Steam-Up

Held each summer, the Great Oregon Steam-Up showcases the exhibits at Powerland Heritage Park and the early machinery that contributed to Oregon’s growth and development. Despite the name, machines of many types of power are featured, including steam, gasoline, diesel, and electric. Many of the exhibits are operational and are fired up during the event. Activities during the event include a parade of vintage tractors, trucks, and automobiles, train and trolley rides, steam powered sawmill demonstrations, tractor pulling, threshing, flour milling, museum tours, and more. 

The Museums

Powerland Heritage Park is a collection of independently-owned museums and historical clubs.

Some of the museums and attractions found at Powerland Heritage Park include a Caterpillar museum, Brooks historical society museum, Oregon Electric Railway Museum, Oregon Fire Service Museum, Northwest Vintage Car & Motorcycle Museum, Pacific Northwest Truck Museum, a steam-powered sawmill, and blacksmith shop, among others.

Make sure to attend conclave this year and check out the rich history and experience that Powerland Heritage Park has to offer. 

Information for this article was acquired from antiquepowerland.com.