Published 07/20/2020 at 5:43 PM PDT
By OREGON TRAVEL DAILY STAFF
(Brooks, Oregon) – A 50-year tradition in Oregon just received some high honors of actual historic significance: the Great Oregon Steam-up event has been designated an Oregon Heritage Tradition by the Oregon Heritage Commission.
Sadly, the Brooks, Oregon event could not be held this year because of COVID-19 concerns. This would’ve been its 50th year providing a glimpse into Oregon’s steam-powered past.
“The designation recognizes those traditions that have helped define the character of the state,” said Chelsea Rose, the commission’s chair. “The Great Oregon Steam-Up helps us celebrate Oregon’s agricultural history and learn about the early machinery and innovation that modern machines, vehicles, and farm equipment are based on.”
The Great Oregon Steam-up began in 1970 by a group of enthusiasts dedicated to the preservation, restoration, and operation of steam powered equipment and antique farm machinery and implements. The mission is to educate the public about the history and operation of machines. Today the Great Oregon Steam-up continues to serve as a gathering for “steam fiends” and the public. You can see equipment such as an operating gas engine that ran a dredge on the Snake River in the early 1900s and a steam powered sawmill that ran in an Oregon mill.
Other Oregon Heritage Traditions include the Oregon State Fair, Medford’s Pear Blossom Festival, the Pendleton Round-Up, and the Woodburn Fiesta Mexicana.
“What sets the Steam-Up apart from other events is the scale,” said Steam-up representatives. “Nothing else like this exists in Oregon. Additionally, each of the fourteen partner museums on campus step forward to showcase their museum.”
The Great Oregon Steam-Up wouldn’t be possible without the over 700 volunteers who maintain the site and run the event. The event adds to the impact of heritage tourism in Oregon and was recently named #9 in the 100 Best Fan-Favorite Destinations in Oregon. On average, the event brings in a total of 15,000 people over the course of it’s two weekends.
This is an unusual year for Heritage Traditions. COVID-19 has forced many events to cancel or restructure for the first time in their 50+ year history. The only other time Oregon Heritage events have canceled has been due to WWI and WWII. This summer the Great Oregon Steam-up will be canceled, but Powerland Heritage Park will present 'Rollin' Thru Steam-Up', a drive through celebration of the innovations, stories, equipment and people that the campus of non-profits celebrates. During three remaining summer weekends guests can drive through Powerland’s sixty-two acre campus and enjoy the sites and features the independent museums and organizations have to offer. The gate fee of $20 per vehicle will help ensure the future of the Great Oregon Steam-Up. Remaining event weekends: July 25th & 26th, August 1st & 2nd, 22nd & 23rd. Gates open 9 am – 5 pm, and it’s family friendly.
More information can be found on their website at: www.powerlandheritagepark.com.
An Oregon Heritage Tradition must have been in continuous operation for more than 50 years, demonstrate a public profile and reputation that distinguishes it from more routine events, and add to the livability and identity of the state. A list of Tradition designations is available at http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/HCD/OHC/pages/oht.aspx.
The Oregon Heritage Commission coordinates efforts to solve statewide heritage issues through grants, education, and advocacy, and also promotes heritage tourism efforts.
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