September 25, 2021 An early fall outing on a still summer-like “top down” day, 21 members and guests ventured to the Yamhill Valley Heritage Center Museum just south of McMinnville, Oregon, about an hour’s drive south west from Portland. By my count, we drove four ’57 and two ’56 Classic Thunderbirds. Other rides included three Retro-Birds and just one ordinary car, one F150 and one SUV as I recall. This museum features historic farm, logging, and other equipment, dating to the mid-1800s when settlers descended on this very fertile area. Docents, many with hands-on knowledge of exhibits assembled from local farms over the years – some from their own families’ farms, were eager to share their knowledge and answer our multitude of questions. In addition to tractors and old farming implements, the museum featured several 1800’s buggies and wagons, as well as cars, and trucks. They even have the first automobile that came into Yamhill Valley – a 1901 steam powered Locomobile! There is also a one-room school house, a blacksmith shop, and even a working saw mill on the site, which was in operation for our visit. They plan to use lumber sawn from this mill to construct additional display buildings in the future. The logs that feed the mill are donated to the museum. Following the museum tour, we headed back into McMinnville proper for a fine lunch and more camaraderie at the Golden Valley Brewery & Restaurant. An added note: On my way home, I encountered a line of cars as far as the eye can see at a virtual stop along the two-lane road of my route. Having just passed a freeway interchange, like several others in this lineup, I turned around to get back to the freeway for another route home. Reaching the top of the on-ramp I saw that the freeway was also at a near dead-stop. Grrrr! Too late now! Creeping along at 0-5 mph, I finally reached a rest stop where I pulled in to let my very hot 312 engine cool down for a while. After about 30 minutes I saw that traffic was once again flowing on the freeway; I checked my temp gauge. Now well back into the normal range, I fired up my ‘Bird and proceeded for a smooth drive on home.
By Jim Sweet
As you enter the Heritage Center the first thing you see are three antique cars. One of them I instantly recognized as a 1903 Curved Dash Olds. Well, I was wrong. It is a 1959 replica of a 1901 Curved Dash Olds. And a very nice replica I must say. One of them is a 1909 Sears Motor Buggy, car number 56. Originally purchased in Wisconsin, it was ordered from the Sears catalogue. The third one is a 1901 Locomoblie Steam Car. The fourth vehicle is just to show that even though Zane and Diane Clark could not be there in person they were there in spirit.
I'm not sure that everyone made it into a shop area. There I discovered a covered wagon, and a couple of dioramas that included locks on the Yamhill River in Lafayette, a saw mill, and railroad switching area.
In the photos below one of the Docents is talking with our tour planner Jim Sweet and Dave Van Winkle. We learned a bit about antique Hook & Ladder fire trucks. They did not fight the fire, but they carried ladders to get to the roof of a burning building and hooks on long ropes to pull the building down so the fire wouldn't spread to other buildings. The buckets were for sand to pour on embers. Even though we're not in Oklahoma Jim found a Surrey with a Fringe on Top. It is actually a Bridal wagon. The Bride and Brides Maid would sit in the front seat and the Groom would sit in the single high rear seat. The Hearse was the "Cadillac" of the day. With its eight columns it was known for escorting only the wealthy to their final resting place.
In the photos below Jim Peterson had been examining an old John Deere. The Moline tractor proudly told us they were from Minneapolis. Take a good look at the red Ferguson Delux and you will see there isn't a frame. Many tractors were built without one. The engine, transmission, rear axle and power take-off units were bolted together and the body was attached to the assembly. This made the entire running gear act as the frame. Wouldn't we like to buy gas for this price today! However, would you want the wages that were offered at the time?
Below we are all sitting at one long table at Golden Valley Brewing for lunch. In the second photo you can see prospective members Jeremy & Janet Wedgworth on the left. They recently acquired a 1955 Thunderbird.
Many thanks to Jim Sweet for planning this fun event.
Additional photos that are hard to categorize and say much about, except that the saw mill operators certainly weren't too busy at the time. Thanks to Jim Sweet for these additional photos.