Friends carry on Pug's dream

September 07, 2001 12:00 am
Pug Robinson could be found just about anywhere he could volunteer his services, like at the Sumpter Valley Railroad, above. His Power of the Past Museum is a collection of antique machinery. (Baker City Herald photograph by S. John Collins).
Pug Robinson could be found just about anywhere he could volunteer his services, like at the Sumpter Valley Railroad, above. His Power of the Past Museum is a collection of antique machinery. (Baker City Herald photograph by S. John Collins).

By CHRISTINA WOOD

Of the Baker City Herald

When Bill J. Pug Robinson passed away Feb. 20, 2001, many people thought they had seen the end of his life-long dream to see a museum devoted to antique farm equipment in Baker County.

Perhaps, if the dream had only been his, it would have died too.

But many friends and family of the old farmer shared his vision, and the 22nd annual Baker Antique Equipment Show will go on in his memory this Saturday and Sunday at Robinsons farm one mile east of Interstate 84 on State Highway 86.

We couldnt just let it go, said Ray Baxter, one of the supporters of the event and a collector of antique equipment himself. It was just too important to him and to the rest of us.

A number of Robinsons friends and members of his family, including his youngest daughter, Mary Neske, have been working to get the grounds in shape for the many visitors expected to drop in during the two-day event.

Breakfast and lunch will be available at the chow wagon, an antique cooking wagon once pulled by horses and used to feed farm crews and ranch hands.

A potluck dinner is planned for Saturday evening along with some good, old fashioned foot-stomping music. Everyone is invited to bring their own instrument and join in the fun.

The gates will open at 7 a.m. both days and the music and fun are likely to last long after dark.

Along with long lines of stored equipment that was owned by Robinson and his family, the organizers expect more than two dozen guest exhibitors from Washington, Oregon and Idaho to bring examples of unique equipment once used on farms and ranches and in mines in the area.

Early examples of horse- and mule-drawn farm equipment and wagons are on display along with some of the earliest known steam powered engines and tractors.

Before diesel, before kerosene, before gasoline, there was steam power, harnessing the energy produced inside large boilers fired by wood or coal.

While people are familiar with steam locomotives used by the railroads, many dont know that steam tractors were built by many companies to pull plows, thresh grain, and run pumps to move irrigation water. Some of these machines closely resembled their railroading cousins, while others provided stationary power that freed thousands of horses and mules from hard labor in fields and mines.

Technology progressed, making improvements (and sometimes getting sidetracked along the way). Two-cylinder tractors and other equipment appeared, making names like John Deere, Grand Detour, Reeves, Rumley, Holt and Superior common names down on the farm.

In addition to the numerous examples of working and non-working equipment, there will be blacksmithing demonstrations and other attractions at various times during the event.

The blacksmithing demos will be provided by Jesse Brewer of Dufur, an up-and-coming young practitioner of an ancient and important art and owner of South Valley Iron Works.

There will be a flea market area and some concession booths available, Neske said, some of which will have antique items for sale.

But Robinsons dream wont end there, vows friends like Louie Tholen of Farm Industrial Service Company. Tholen said Robinson had often expressed his belief in the importance of saving examples of the equipment to show future generations.

This was Robinsons vision: That young people would be able to see and touch the tools of their grandparents and understand in part what their lives were like.

Anyone interested in helping to share this vision of the Power of the Past, can attend a meeting Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. in the shop building of Farm Industrial Service Company, located on H Street east of the United Parcel Service terminal.

Tholen said if enough interest can be generated the group can form a non-profit association to support the exhibit and continuing equipment shows. For more information contact Neske at 541/523-4003 or 856-3736 evenings only.