A volunteer at Powerland Heritage Park demonstrating how machinery from another era works. (Courtesy/Powerland Heritage Park)

Just as the Great Oregon Steam-up was preparing for its 50th anniversary and had received a special recognition from the state, the coronavirus pandemic hit — canceling events across the state.

But the event, highlighting the mechanical innovations that helped shape Oregon, will go on in a slightly different form.

During the weekends of Aug. 1 and 2 as well as Aug. 22 and 23, visitors can experience the Great Oregon Steam-up from their cars in a drive-through event. Gates open at 9 a.m. for the event that runs until 5 p.m. Admission is $20 per car. The last car in is at 4 p.m.  

Normally, the annual event held at Powerland Heritage Park, located at 3995 Brooklake Rd N.E., is a showcase of farm tractors, early engines, vintage trucks and cars, logging equipment, firefighting apparatus and other machinery.

Attracting 15,000 people each year, it normally features rides on a historic trolley and miniature railroad and a parade of vehicles from past eras. All the park’s partner museums, clubs and other organizations are involved with the event.

“It was a major devastation and a big loss for the community to have to cancel this event,” said Lena Prine, marketing coordinator for Powerland Heritage Park.

The drive-through event will feature a sample of what the 62-acre campus has to offer. It’ll include antique cars, steam engines and a blacksmith demonstration, among others, she said. 

“Crank that AC and come wind your way through the campus,” said Prine.

In April, the Great Oregon Steam-up received the Oregon Heritage Tradition designation by the Oregon Heritage Commission.

“The designation recognizes those traditions that have helped define the character of the state,” said Chelsea Rose, the commission’s chair, in a statement. “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.”

Oregon events that have been recognized with the designation include the Oregon State Fair, Medford’s Pear Blossom Festival, the Pendleton Round-Up and the Woodburn Fiesta Mexicana.

Katie Henry, the commission’s coordinator, said that to get the designation an event must tie into the identity of Oregon and have been going on for 50 years while adding to the livability of the state. She said the Oregon Country Fair was the last event to receive the designation last year.

An antique car on dispay at Powerland Heritage Park. (Courtesy/Powerland Heritage Park)

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Contact reporter Jake Thomas at 503-575-1251 or jake@salemreporter.com or @jakethomas2009.