Mystery solved in Bair Park

Visitors who wander off the paved path in Bair Park might have happened upon what looks to be the remains of a vintage tractor at the north end. The remains have sat in the park for so long, trees are growing up through the frame.

While reporting on Keizer parks for a special section of the Keizertimes, titled We are Keizer, intern Brooklyn Flint mentioned the odd attraction near the water reservoir. The paper even checked with city officials to find out if anyone knew more about the object’s origins.

Last week, reader Beth Nolting (nee Bair) wrote in with more details about the mysterious skeletal vehicle.

“It’s not a tractor, as many have surmised,” wrote Nolting. She checked in with her brother, Dave Bair, who had more details on the object’s history. “It is an old Oakland touring car. Our grandfather, J.C. Bair, reconfigured it to make a portable saw mill,” Nolting wrote.

Bair Park itself was once part of 160 acres owned by Nolting’s great-great grandparents, John and Edna Bair. The couple purchased the land in 1882 and it evolved to include the original Clear Lake School and the Keizer/Clear Lake United Methodist Church.

Oakland Motor Car Company began production of cars in Oakland County, Mich., in 1908. The brand was snapped up by General Motors (GM) the following year. GM continued producing cars under the Oakland brand until 1931 when it was dropped in favor of Pontiac.

Touring cars were defined by the lack of a fixed roof and seating for four or more people. The style was most popular between 1910 and 1920

A sales sheet for a 1910 Oakland offered the car in golden brown, gray, blue or black with a five-person seating capacity. The list price was $1,200, the equivalent of nearly $33,000 in 2021 currency. A removable top, windshield and speedometer raised the price to a whopping $1,290.