New Art Exhibits Interpret Agriculture’s Artifacts Tractors Crops & Hops

Woodland, CA April 1, 2016- The California Ag Museum ushered in longer hours of operation for the season on March 19th for Family Day.  While engine clubs and Monster Tractors roared in the East Wing, the West Wing opened two new art exhibits.  The art season at the Museum begins with photographs of “Central Valley through the Seasons” by Beth Young which are on display from March 19th, through May 19th.  By day, Young is a licensed architect specializing in designing healthcare facilities.  As a photographer she seeks out calming settings in nature.

Paula Amerine also displays “The Art of Real Food” from March 19th to May 19th.  Her paintings are influenced from a long-time agriculture tradition of branding fruit and vegetable lug boxes.   You’ll also find her work in the new seasonal cookbook by Joanne Neft and Laura Kenny currently available in the California Agriculture Museum gift shop.

““We’re interpreting the Museum collection in new ways at the California Agriculture Museum,” says Rusty Lucchesi, ”art is one of many new features you’ll see when you visit the newly arranged collection at the Museum.” The Museum is grateful to the Sparrow Gallery for curating the show and enhancing the collection with another view of agriculture. The Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10am to 5pm, and Sunday from 10am to 4pm at 1962 Hays Lane, Woodland, CA. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for seniors.

Artist Jeff Myers interpretation of tractors opens on June 16th for our annual fundraising event Tractors & Brews as a salute to our roots.  Tickets go on sale at The evening features a salute to agriculture’s myth makers with one of the most anticipated food and drink events of the season.

Agriculture after the Gold Rush – Exhibit Sneak Preview November 13, 2015 at 5:30pm



Woodland California, Agriculture after the Gold Rush, is a new exhibit at the California Agriculture Museum that features a replica of the town of Bodie, California which is said to be haunted.  The exhibit was developed by Fashion Stables and opens for a sneak preview on Friday the 13th, November 2015 with spirits and a shoot out by the Blue Canyon Gang from 5:30pm – 7pm.  Admission is $15 for adults and it is free to Museum members.

Local folklore indicates that Bodie is cursed. oct2015-2
It is believed that individual spirits of the
community come together as one to protect
what is left of the town. If someone attempts
to remove any aspect of this community,
they are doomed to misfortune until they
return that which they have taken. The
original town, just like the setting at the
California Agriculture Museum, has a history
of haunting and eerie sounds that come out
of nowhere.

Bodie began as a mining camp following the discovery of gold in that region in 1859.  It was established by a number of miners including W.S. Bodey who perished in a blizzard (the spelling of the town’s name was adjusted later in history).  This mining town was California’s second or third largest city by 1880 with a population of between 5000-7000 people and about 2,000 buildings.oct2015-13

Among those buildings are a general store, bank, Miner’s Union Hall, and a funeral parlor.  The local mines produced gold valued at nearly $34,000,000.  The town also supported the Standard Pioneer Journal of Mono County first published in October 10, 1877.

Located at an altitude of 8,400 feet and exposed on a flat plateau, Bodie inhabitants transported lumber, crops, and other agricultural products to survive in very hot and cold climates.

Other pioneers arrived in California who didn’t spend much time digging for gold.  Instead they grew crops and raised herds.  Some failed.  Other’s succeeded.  When the weather, water, livestock, and machinery cooperated, they turned a good profit.  While mining was the cornerstone of the economy, farmers, ranchers and agriculture related businesses were also prospering.

Before the Gold Rush: Agriculture

oct2015-3 Long before the Gold Rush, California’s population was made up of Native American cultures.  By the mid-1700’s the population experienced colonization from Spain (1769) and then Mexico (1823).  The territory was isolated and sparsely populated.  Early ranching families referred to themselves as Californios and  they exported agricultural products around the world.

These early years developed many of California’s land laws and customs.  By the 1830’s Californios had assimilated elements of culture and law from the missions, pueblos, and rancheros.  The constantly changing cultural values created opportunity to develop extensive ranching along the California coast and in the Sacramento Valley that would eventually lend itself to farming.

California Gold: Agriculture


It was Sam Brannan, a storekeeper from Sutter Creek, who traveled through San Francisco holding a bottle filled with gold dust shouting: “Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River!” Those words began the greatest and most diverse immigration in California’s history!

Because of the massive immigration that had settled in California during the Gold Rush, there was a need for food production.  The demand for food and other agricultural commodities spurred California’s agricultural business development and competed with mining as the number one economic driver.

There were challenges for farmer’s and ranchers to overcome.  Part of the California agriculture story was overcoming the lack of labor pools, environmental challenges, and a lack of infrastructure that modern food producers expect today such as irrigation, electricity, transport, and equipment designed to function in California’s varied terrain and climate.  The California terrain and isolation encouraged invention.  By the 1913’s most every farm in California owned a tractor, and not coincidentally this is also the time when prosperity came to rural areas of our State. 

Although raising herds of cattle, cultivating indigenous plants, and planting small orchards and grape vines were established years before the California Gold Rush, the continued demand for wheat after the Gold Rush drove California crop production.  California had the acreage to cultivate large areas of fertile land.  In 1870 a bushel of wheat could be sold for $1.82 helping farmers to pay for their production investment.

As farming conditions fluctuated from good to bad, and the consumer’s demand for food also changed, farmers in California learned to diversify their crops and grow other commodities.  It wasn’t unusual to hear about early settlers who lost everything several times over before they succeeded.  Farming like the Gold Rush was equivalent to gambling.  The hearty immigrants that arrived in California from Europe, Asian, Australia, and South America each took calculated challenges and made personal sacrifices to succeed. Each culture added to the science and production of crops in a cooperative atmosphere geared toward survival.

When it came to the soil, local farmers and ranchers sustained their businesses better than the 49ers. After the frantic first years of the California Gold Rush, most gold miners, with more dreams than common sense, dug, then moved on eager for the next gold strike.

Generations of families that followed the gold rush held the community together with their agricultural cooperatives and fraternal organizations.  Names like Heidrick, Veerkamp, Davis, Sheldon, Ghirardeli, Murietta, Snyder, Clark, Knight, Nakagtagi, Stone, Wilkinson and Alvardo show up in edifices like grave yards, old ranch houses, granaries, and barns. Family names like Best, Holt, Harris, and Case were etched into machinery, now considered artifacts that dot our agricultural landscapes.

Agriculture Today


Drive a few miles out of most any township in California and you’ll see open fields, beautiful views, row crops, wheat, orchards, vineyards and cattle. Most of these areas were founded in the mid 1850s.

Even the foundation for early irrigation dates back to the Gold Rush from the American River which winds through our corridors bringing water to pastures, orchards and gardens in many areas of the valleys that are currently controlled by agencies.

Early-day farmers supplied basic needs, such as wool, dairy products, beef, fruit, nuts, hay, beans, apples, pears and various grains, especially barley. One of the most profitable crops was wine which became established in the pre gold rush era.oct2015-9

Since those early days, agriculture began and continues as one of the main economic drivers of California. Although large farming operations
dominate the economic climate, the California consumer’s demand for the unusual, sophisticated or just plain delicious food became a part of the agricultural landscape and continues to spur the development and expansion of agri-businesses, agri-tourism and California restaurant cuisine
that is renowned for being farm fresh.

Agriculture’s Early History

1850s               Farming cooperatives and clubs are established

1854                Self-governing windmill perfected

1856                Two-horse straddle-row cultivator patented

1858                Mason jars invented

1850’s              Commercial corn and wheat

1858                Grimm alfalfa introducedoct2015-10

Early Transportation

1840                Railroad track constructed

1845-57           Plank road movement

1850’s              Major rail trunk lines cross Appalachian Mountains

Steam and clipper ships improve overseas transportation

Ag Mechanization

1600’s              Farmers near water transportation grow cash crops for trade.

1797                First cast-iron plow by Charles Newbold

1830                Walking plow, brush harrow, hand broadcast of seed, sickle, flail

1831                Cyrus H. McCormick built the first practical grain harvesting machine

1834                McCormick reaper patented

1837                John Deere manufacture steel plows, practical threshing machine is patented

1840                Factory-made agricultural machinery encourages commercial farming

1841                Practical grain drill patented

1849                Jacob J. and Henry F. Mann patented a reaper

1850                Homer Atkins develops a self raking reaper

1858                C. W. and W. W. Marsh  invent a grain harvester

Thank You!

We are grateful for the contributions of Fashion Stables, the Blue Canyon Gang, and our Tuesday Crew for developing this backdrop that dramatizes the agricultural artifacts, transportation and machinery of the era during and following the Gold Rush in California. A special acknowledgement is deserved for Bettina Chandler for donating and supporting the restoration of an early John Deere wagon that dates back to the 1800s and to Lorry Dunning for stewarding the donation.  Many thanks to Cliff Simes who put hours and years into restoring the wagon.

We also want to acknowledge the materials and scholarship that contributed to elements of this exhibit:

  • Haunted Places to Go, Real Haunted Ghost Towns in the United States: Bodie, California
  • Bodie Foundation
  • National Agriculture In the Classroom
  • California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom
  • The Evolution of California Agriculture, 1850-200: Alan Olmstead and Paul Rhode
  • “After the Gold Rush” by Betty Sederquist
  • Decline of the Californios, by Leonard Pitt
  • Making Tracks, by Ed and Sue Claessen
  • Gold Rush, The American Experience, a PBS production
  • Walnut History and Cultivation by California Walnuts
  • A Stylized History of California Agriculture from 1796 to 2000
  • After the Gold Rush, by David Vaught

Last Call Car Show October 11th, Pre-Sales Now!

Last Call 2014Calling all classics, hot rods, rat-rods, low-rider, vintage fixer-uppers, and collectibles on wheels, the California Agriculture Museum, 1962 at Hays Lane in Woodland, is hosting their 2nd annual Last Call Car Show, October 11, 2015 from 10AM to 2PM.

This indoor show is an open invitation to all vehicles, motorcycles, tractors, cars and trucks,  from barn finds to pristine showpieces. Vehicle pre-registration is $30 and includes a commemorative dash plaque, day of registration is $35.

Don’t own a car? General admission to this family friendly event is $5, parking and children under 12 are free, and it include access to the museum collection.Last call Full page print ad

“This event is sure to be a great time,” explained Executive Director Lorili Ostman, “With great vehicles, DJ music, food, Bloody Mary bar, large raffle, and even a Volkswagen Bug-turned-photo booth,  everyone is sure to find something they love. Plus, museum admission is normally $10 per person, so this is a fantastic opportunity to check out the facility and consider joining as a member!”

Additional information and pre-sales are available at, by calling 530-666-9700, or emailing

California Agriculture Museum Art Installation Reception Sept. 11

Bud Gordon Art series The California Ag Museum welcomes California urban landscape artist and UC Davis alum , Bud Gordon, to their rotating art exhibit. Following the Friday beer and wine reception, the 12-painting series will hang on display until October 31, 2015

Woodland, Ca  September 1, 2015 — The California Agriculture Museum welcomed their latest painting series this week, California Today, by Bud Gordon, as part of their rotating art exhibit. The public is invited to an installation reception on Friday, September 11, from 5:30-7pm. The event is $10 and includes a complimentary glass of beer or wine.

The 12 painting series, ranging from 14 inches by 18 inches to 36 inches by 48 inches, takes visitors on a tour through California’s urban landscapes, merging with agriculture fields. Museum goers can enjoy the series through the end of October 2015, and a portion of the art sale proceeds will benefit the non-profit.

“Imagine touring some of California’s richest agricultural land by way of the Sacramento Corridor to San Jose by train,” explained Gordon, “The paintings are labeled so you understand your physical progression along the exhibit route.

As a Sacramento resident for decades, and University of Davis graduate, Gordon says the work documents his visual experience as a painter in California today. As a self-proclaimed “Urban Realist,” Gordon is interested in an attempt to reveal that which, in the middle of banal every day, remains extraordinary, rare, unique, and personal. Cal Ag Museum Artist Bud Gordon and wife

“When visiting the Bay Area, I will usually take the train,  it is such a pleasant way to travel because I am able to draw and photograph the urban landscape along the way,” he continued, “This current work, created in 2014, are the views I’ve seen between Sacramento and San Jose on the Capitol Corridor train.”

Gordon studied with renowned artists Wayne Thiebaud and Manuel Neri at the University of California Davis, and he refers to himself as an urban artist whose paintings explore how art can engage the viewer by documenting the environment, people, places and things.

When describing his art, Gordon says at distance his work looks realistic while close up it dissolves into abstraction. He explained that his love of the medium inspires him to work the surface and build in textures, and that by using sketching and photography to capture the essence of the terrain,  he can return to in the studio to transform those glimpses into complex landscapes brimming with surface tension.

“Bud’s art has been hung at the Shimo Center for the Arts in Sacramento, as well as, The Gold Leaf Gallery in Monterey; it is a pleasure to welcome his collection into the museum,” says Executive Director Lorili Ostman, “this rotating art exhibit continues to support our museum mission to educate and preserve the culture of agriculture in our community.”

For more information about the event, or to pre-purchase tickets, visit or call 530-666-9700. The California Agriculture Museum, formerly the Heidrick Ag History Center, is located at 1962 Hays Lane, Woodland, CA.

The Land Series Oil Paintings on Display Starting June 9th at the Ag Museum, Purchase Gala Tickets Now!

Tractor Amalgam,  60" x 72"  Oil, Acrylic, Digital C-Print and Graphite  2015

Tractor Amalgam, 60″ x 72″ Oil, Acrylic, Digital C-Print and Graphite 2015

The California Agriculture Museum will feature the solo artist oil painting exhibition, “The Land Series,” by Sacramento artist, Jeff Myers, beginning with their wine and dine reception on Tuesday, June 9th from 5:30-8:30 PM.

In a notable advancement of his style, Myers will be debuting a large piece called “Tractor Amalgam” that combines his “Body Environment Series” photography with oil painting.

In this painted collage the central motif is the Tractor.  However, upon closer viewing, you will see many embedded human figures supporting the Tractor form.  Myers states, “I am interested in human consciousness’ verses what might be called ‘machine consciousness’ and how they interrelate.  In this piece I want to create a Tractor that feels more organically alive while pointing to future questions of artificial intelligence.”

The exhibit will be on display until August 4th at 1962 Hays Lane, Woodland, CA

Purchase your tickets to the museum event at

Press Release Wine, Dine & Art Reception at the California Ag Museum

June 9 folding card          Woodland, CA May 30, 2015-  Wine and Dine at the California Agriculture Museum Tuesday, June 9th, in celebration of their name change and new exhibits. Stroll through the newly rearranged tractor collection, while enjoying a variety of local beers, wine, food and even moonshine tastings, 5:30-8:30 at 1962 Hays Lane, Woodland.

The California Agriculture Museum is hosting a public reception to commemorate their evolution into a California landmark museum, formerly the Heidrick Ag History Center. The facility is still home to the Heidrick tractor collection, but has added exhibits such as a tribute to moonshine, which displays a historic column still as well as a pot still that would have been found hidden in a corn field during prohibition. Other new additions include a kid’s corner with ride on tractors, a large corn bath with tractor toys, tomato facts and climb-on simulators.

Moonshine Exhibit            “We are proud of the hard work that has been put into this evolving museum by board members, staff, and volunteers,” said Executive Director Lorili Ostman, “And of course we could not continue to grow with the generosity of our museum donors.”

“This is a great opportunity to become a museum member in order to support one of California’s richest historical landmarks in the making, and help us cultivate new exhibits,” Ostman added.

Enjoy local wines from Berryessa Gap, Turkovich, Lynch Wines, local beers from Black Dragon, Ruhstaller, as well as, food from Ludy’s, Fat’s, Yolo Fliers Club, Common Grounds, Sugar Gallery, Cracchiolo’s Market, Deli, & CateringBlackPine Catering and Events and more. Plus, grab a commemorative shot glass for $5 and receive a Moonshine variety tasting!

Also on special display will be a body of oil paintings by Sacramento artist Jeff Myers celebrating agriculture machinery.

The event will take place, Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at 5:30PM in the museum at 1962 Hays Lane, Woodland. Admission is $10 for members, $15 for non-members, and complimentary for $1000+ annual donors.

Fred C. Heidrick Jr., Aug. 5, 1938 — May 15, 2015

Fred C. Heidrick Jr., pictured here with his wife Sandra at the 2014 Last Call Car Show at the Heidrick Ag History Center.

Fred C. Heidrick Jr., pictured here with his wife Sandra at the 2014 Last Call Car Show at the Heidrick Ag History Center.

The California Agriculture Museum, home of the Heidrick tractor collection and event center, will welcome the public to celebrate the life of Fred Heidrick Jr. this Friday, May 29. Family, friends and community members are invited to join in remembering him at 11AM, at 1962 Hays Lane, Woodland.

As the son of the museum’s founder, Fred Jr. was an active supporter of the Heidrick Ag History Center and its recent evolution into the California Ag Museum. He will be fondly remembered for his bear hugs and the cheer he brought to the facility every time he would visit.

Fred Heidrick Jr. captured chatting with museum Executive Director, Loirli Ostman, at the YOLO Outdoor Expo museum fundraiser in March 2015.

Looking back, volunteers remember Freddy for his love and oversight of his family’s collection.

Fred was raised in Woodland; he worked full-time at the Heidrick family farm before and after his two years of military service in the Army. The museum proudly displays an Army history exhibit to represent this piece of his life.

Fred Clark Heidrick Jr. passed away after a brief bout of cancer on May 15, 2015, at the age of 76.

Fred and Gene

Fred poses with museum docent and volunteer Gene in 2014.

He was born on Aug. 5, 1938, in Woodland to Fred and Helen Heidrick.