BROOKS, Ore. — The 45th Annual Great Oregon Steam-Up will take over Antique Powerland for the next two weekends, putting a spotlight on yesteryear’s finest mechanical marvels.
“You walk in, and pretty much the first thing you see is a tractor. And then the second thing you see is a tractor as well.”
That’s Pamela Vorachek speaking, the executive director of the Steam-Up.
She said the two-weekend festival is an amalgamation of three Ts: Trains, trolleys and, you guessed it, tractors.
At the Steam-Up, you can stroll past the ticket counter of a restored 1920s-era Southern Pacific depot and take a ride on a vintage trolley; watch chaff and wood chips fly as professionals operate a steam-powered sawmill and thresher; or even duck for cover as a World War II tank fires (blanks) to start each day’s tractor parade.
This year’s featured tractor — and there are about 40 of them — is the Minneapolis Moline.
Marketed as a “comfort tractor,” the Moline was the first of its kind to offer operators a fully-enclosed cab. Advertisements from the period promised farmers they could plow their fields, then drive it to church, according to Vorachek.
Before that, “by the time you got done plowing a field, well you took a bath, and you left as much mud in that bathtub as dirt was out in the field,” show manager Evan Burroughs said.
Back then, a thresher was an infernal, steam-powered contraption that sat in one place and cost a small fortune to own — maybe $5,000. Instead of a single combine practically flying over fields, 20 or 30 men might share the work, piling their crops to a single mound in front of the roving contractor’s thresher.
When you were ready to move the thresher, you needed a team of mules.
The job was dirty, hot, messy and loud, according to Burroughs.
“Take a modern combine, strip out the mobility components, and the guts of the thing are virtually the same as the 1880 to 1920s threshing machine,” Burroughs explained. “The technology changes, but it’s nice to know if everything goes gunny bag with the computer, we can back up a step and do it mechanically.”
The Steam-Up is hosted on the grounds of Antique Powerland, a 62-acre park in Brooks, Ore., that features 12 permanent mechanical and agricultural museums.
The event offers plenty of food. The Knights of Columbus will sell sesame garlic chicken and mashed potatoes, while the Kiwanis will serve burgers. Other fare includes German sausage, pie, Reuben sandwiches, root beer floats and biscuits and gravy.
Fan-favorite featured artist Wayne Richards and Southern Nights will also return for another year.
45th Annual Great Oregon Steam-Up
When: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 25 and 26, and Aug. 1 and 2
Tickets: Adult tickets are $12, $20 for a weekend pass or $30 for a one-day family pass. All children under 12 are admitted free; Oregon National Guard members and their families are admitted free with valid military ID on the second weekend.