By JOCE DEWITT
For the Keizertimes
Preserving the past; enriching the future.
For 40 years Brooks historians have put this tradition to use and held to it during this summer’s Great Oregon Steam-Up in Brooks’ Antique Powerland the past two weekends.
The event is an opportunity to revel in the art of heritage machinery, which includes anything from antique cameras to caterpillar machinery.
“This is how they did things back then,” says Kevin Engel of his antique John Deere engine, a green and red apparatus with wheels, a cable and a spout. “These were for anything we use an electric motor for now.”
David Brown’s elevator governor, one of three on display, is a fascinating and complex piece designed to save the first elevators and their passengers from plummeting to their deaths.
“The brake and pinch cables stop the elevator from travelling a certain amount of feet per second. People were dying on elevators before this was invented,” says Brown, a Steam-Up participant of 13 years.
A walk through Antique Powerland gives spectators a very distinct sense of the period in which the machinery was originally constructed.
Just past the entrance are the flea market and exhibit area, a shared space where designers present their contraptions and educate the public.
East of the exhibit area lays the military antique display with old tanks boasting large guns designed to intimidate any World War I enemy.
North of the military display customers eat ice cream made by a steam engine as the steam sawmill nearby smell of freshly-cut cedar and furnace fire.
Noises of all sorts are heard throughout the day. Bursts of steam are often released from the mill and the deafening sound of an old locomotive frequently startles passersby.
The most exciting sound to be heard on Saturday, however, was a fire truck siren.
“The fire trucks went code three towards the other side of the bushes,” says Gene Arnold, who operates radio equipment and witnessed the trucks passing through. “It’s under control,” says Arnold. “But it was a fire.”
Though the likelihood of a fire occurring so close to the event again is slim, such incidents prove there is hardly a dull moment at the Steam-Up.
A five minute walk north of the great steam engine is the arena for lumberjack demonstrations that occur four times each day. The audience watches as two logging teams compete in ax-throwing, sawing, climbing and log-rolling.
Near the arena is a vast space for what is known as Collector’s Paradise, a swap meet that could be mistaken for the world’s largest yard sale. Antiques of every shape, size and age are gathered onto tables and sold at bargain prices.
In the heart of all the commotion lays the quaint Depot Museum, which is continuously maintained by the Brooks Historical Society.
Adele Egan of the historical society board claims, “We tell three stories: the history of transportation, the history of agriculture, which is why a train came through Brooks in the first place; and the history of community.”
Upon celebrating its 40th anniversary, this year’s Steam-Up boasted countless charming participants and machinery.
“This has been a very good year,” says Egan.