Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Great Oregon Steam-Up: Steam Tractors

The Great Oregon Steam-Up happens annually on two consecutive weekends in late July and early August. What you'll see over the next few posts is from a quick pass through the grounds on the first Saturday. An adult single day pass was $12. I think the smart thing would be to dry camp on site ($15 per night) and get the $20 weekend pass. Next time...

They held a parade at 1:30 which lasted 90 minutes. Not all of the equipment on site took part in the parade, but most of the operating steam engines did. This engine was built by Westinghouse. Who knew? I sort of figured that steam tractors were pretty rare - they said this one was very rare.

This Case steam engine was retrofitted at some point with steering. Originally this one was designed to be steered by a team of horses, thus the seat mounted on the front left corner by the stack. A hybrid, long before we were talking about hybrid vehicles.

Many of the tractors were staffed by multiple generations of a family, and often were operated by younger family members

as in this example.

We had carefully chosen grandstand seats in the shade for the parade which made photography less than ideal. I sure enjoyed the shade!

This is the same tractor that was in the first picture where they were using the engine to power a large fan.

This was one of two engines that were fitted with a small steam powered generator to power a headlamp.

The dark grey "motor" was actually a generator, powered by a small steam turbine on the other end of the generator. The exhaust from the steam turbine is the vertical pipe alongside the smoke stack.

The collage below is sized large so that you can see some of the individual detail of the steam tractors if you want. Like all my photos, double click to get the large version.


  1. I must have lived a very sheltered life. That's the first I've heard of steam tractors. What a fun education! :)

    1. I'm grateful that people have held on to these machines. I love watching this history in motion! Wonder what was going through the farmer's head when he gambled on a steam engine to replace teams of horses. Sure not the same skills to maintain!

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Jay. You're making tough choices! I've always wanted to go to Oregon's Collier State Park on Father's Day when they have all their antique logging equipment running. Sounds like I need to be in Oregon for Father's Day at least twice!

  3. John,
    you can do both the same weekend, camp half way between them and go to .Pottsville on Saturday and to Collier SP. on Sunday. than take a few days to relax .

  4. I'm hoping next summer will be an Alaska summer but this might be an option the following year.

  5. Hey John, thanks for finding all these swell old machines and sharing. I had no idea!
    Many folks resisted the scrappers even way back then.

    1. When I was a young man I asked Dad about stationary single cylinder engines that might have been left from his Dad's farming. He said they towed them to town on their flywheels during the WWII scrap drives. It amazes me how much of this stuff has survived and runs!