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History Comes to Life
Antique Logging Museum and
Steam-Up displays and events
If you’ve got an old piece of logging machinery sitting around some forgotten corner of your equipment yard, getting slowly swallowed by blackberries and scotch broom, you might think about trying to preserve some vanishing history and donate it to the folks at the Antique Logging Machinery Museum outside of Brooks, Ore.
They Like Them Big
Just to be clear…the more massively-built dinosaur of a steam-driven behemoth it is, the better. None of those modern hydraulic, computer-controlled, air-conditioned technical marvels for these boys. Down at the Museum, everything is larger than life, from the almost-as-big-as-your-house Skagit BX300, to the 100-inch Skookum tongs and the gigantic blocks they used to string their two-inch diameter main lines back in the day.
Some of the pieces on display are steam-driven. The rest of the gear and equipment is pre-1950 or older. “Old” is the primary criteria for inclusion at the museum, along with “really big and heavy and covered in rust.”
Some of the pieces are destined to be cleaned up, patched up, and returned to working order (more or less). The main things holding the process back are time and money, but not enthusiasm and dedication — those last two qualities are in great abundance among the retired loggers who make up most of the museum membership.
Antique Powerland Museum (APM) is the umbrella organization that provides a home to the Logging Museum, the Antique Caterpillar Machinery Museum, the Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Museum, and the Oregon Two Cylinder Club (for John Deere equipment), along with a long list of other old-time museums and display areas.
The logging museum started out as an offshoot of the CAT museum, which was formed by CAT enthusiasts, many of whom also happened to be loggers. When the CAT museum built their own space, the logging folks decided they needed a space as well where they could bring some of the equipment and artifacts in out of the rain and put them on proper display.
New Display in July
Their new display hall has been under construction for some time now and should be completed by mid-July, just in time for the biggest event of the year at Antique Powerland.
For the last few years, the APM has sponsored a reanimation of the mechanical dinosaurs event known as the Great Oregon Steam-Up. This year, the Steam-Up is being held the last weekend of July (27 & 28) and the first weekend of August (3 & 4). By all accounts from previous Steam-Ups, there are plenty of things to see and do.
Paul Skirvin is one of the founding members of the Antique Logging Machinery Museum. He worked all his life in logging, starting out just after WW2 with Enoch Skirvin and Sons Inc. out of Philomath, Ore. A lot of the tools and pieces of equipment on display were originally his and were used back in the day by Paul and his dad. According to Paul, “If you’re at all interested in history and old things from the past, they’ve got practically everything here.”
He’s referring, of course, to the displays at all the pavilions that make up the APM, and that’s one of the big attractions of Steam-Up day. All the pavilions are open, the volunteers who run the pavilions are all on hand to answer questions and demonstrate artifacts, and the machines are all spiffed up as best they can.
See Them in Action
Best of all, as many of the old-time machines that can actually rumble around the main field belching smoke and inspiring awe and amazement as they slowly chug past the viewing bleachers. “They have a parade and a lot of this stuff goes through it,” says Paul. “We run a lot of Cats through it. John Deere will have 100 tractors here some years.”
Paul Skirvin, one of the founding members of the Antique Logging Machinery Museum, was a lifelong logger out of Philomath, Ore.
If that’s not enough, they have a trolley car, vendor booths, food, lumberjacking exhibitions, chain saw carving, and the ever-popular old time tractor sled pulls.
Aside from the fun of Steam-Up day, Paul says that the really important aspect of the Antique Logging Machine Museum is to collect and preserve (and even refurbish if possible) the machines that helped America grow and prosper in the early days of the 20th century.
“The main thing is to preserve our history,” he says. “We need to show the young people today what logging used to be. Today we don’t have no logging hardly, and what logging we do, well shoot, it’s all hydraulics and downsizing. The big equipment, like the big Skagit BX300 we have, is a thing of the past.”
Paul continues, “Back then, we still had a lot of old growth. We’d have a lot of 3-log loads. Some just one-log loads. These days, some of the jobs you get 100 pulls. It’s a different world.”
At least we can still see the tools and machines that populated that logging world of years ago, and we can talk to guys like Paul Skirvin who used to make a living in that world.