We are officially the California Agriculture Museum!

2015 Museum Logo 6x6Woodland, CA– The Heidrick Ag History Center, has been rebranded as the California Agriculture Museum, in order to better reflect its broad cultural relevance. Giving substantial credit to its founder, Northern California farmer Fred C. Heidrick Sr., the non-profit museum is home to the nation’s most rare collection of California tractors and farm equipment.

The California Ag Museum is nestled in Yolo County which continues to be of the most agriculturally dominant counties in the state, producing nearly 35 percent of the world’s processing tomatoes.

This museum exhibits the evolution of California farming since the late 1800’s, with more than 100 tractors and another 100 pieces of agricultural artifacts on display.

“We have everything from giant steam driven tractors, to the belt driven and diesel burning metal wheel tractors,” Executive Director Ostman explained, “Following the end of the gold rush era, grain production exploded out here in the West, and pioneer farmers exemplified the true definition of innovation.”

Tractor technology is recognizably the most important aspect of modern farming in the United States; its transformation has enabled farmers to produce more effectively and efficiently to feed the ever growing population.

By the end of the 1800’s California became the leader in agriculture and mechanization;  it also lead the way in environmental standards. Paired with the diverse landscape, unique weather and healthy soil, it continues to be the ideal test area for tractor manufacturers.  If they can meet the criteria in California, most times they have exceeded demands in the rest of the nation and the rest of the world. Large equipment manufacturers have embraced ideas born on California’s farms, and put the ideas into mass production for worldwide specialized equipment.

Although Ostman explains that the Heidrick name is known as an agricultural giant among farming and ranching communities, the founding family and board of directors recognize that  it lacks distinction outside of those circles. How to maintain that local charm while inviting travelers to stop by to learn the California agriculture story has been a major topic of debate for several years.

The founder’s grandson, Rusty Luchessi, is very active in the museum’s affairs as board president, and expressed his support and enthusiasm for the rebranding efforts.

“By changing the name of the museum, we are hoping to emphasize that the collection is a celebration of California’s strong agricultural heritage,” he explained, “It encompasses the diversity of California farms and farming, and spotlights the ingenuity, camaraderie, and general ‘don’t tell me I can’t’ attitude of California farmers. This collection tells that story well.”

“With the rebranding, we can market to a wider demographic, people will have a better understanding of what they will find here,” Ostman added. “The Fred C. Heidrick collection is still the focal point of the museum, but we want our name to better explain what that is.”

“We hear our guests remark that they never imagined the museum was so visually and historically exciting,” she continued, “We have high hopes that that name change will strengthen the museum’s visibility as the landmark it is for California.”

The museum team has partnered with Ag in the Classroom, a federal agriculture educational program that fits in with California common core curriculum.

“We are in the middle of a farm-to-fork healthy eating revolution,” Ostman said, “What better way to teach children and neighbors about the meaning of whole foods than to give them an experience that rationalizes the culture of agriculture. To provide understanding of their roots, and why agriculture is a major player in California’s economic position.”

The museum may be named for California, however, they rely completely on funding from donations, visits and revenue from their onsite event center.

For the last 20 years, the Heidrick Ag History Museum and Event Center has been one of the areas premiere event venues, inviting clients to host their events in one of four unique rental spaces. The facility has been be rented for weddings, parties, large corporate events both ag related and not, and has been home to annual expositions, car shows and collector events.

As the California Ag Museum moves forward, the non-profit facility will continue to be available for rent to comfortably accommodate events, in their large banquet hall, unique agricultural equipment museum, beautifully manicured garden courtyard, and their newly unveiled 45,000 square foot grand exposition facility called the East Wing.

For a special treat, clients have the option of creating a grand entry for their dignitaries by parading them through an edifice adorn by treasures of California’s rich artifacts seated in a Model A, a 1920’s bus, or maybe even a 1925 fire engine.

These venues are available for gatherings small to large — trade shows, large-scale conferences, personal special events, and more — with customizable accommodations to make every booking completely unique.

For more information about the museum, please visit www.CaliforniaAgMuseum.org

The museum remembers Nancy Gnoss

Nancy Gnoss, centered wearing turquoise blue, surrounded by her family.  -Photo courtesy of The Gnoss Family

Nancy Gnoss, centered wearing turquoise blue, surrounded by her family.
-Photo courtesy of The Gnoss Family

The love for Nancy Ann (Heidrick) Gnoss was tangibly abundant this past week, as more than 600 relatives, friends and even acquaintances filled the Heidrick Ag History Center museum and banquet hall to celebrate her life on January 10. Although we will miss Nancy’s spirit at the museum, we are honored to have been part of this large gathering. Nancy will always be here in the hearts of many.

Born to our museum’s founders Fred Sr. and Helen Heidrick, Nancy is near and dear to the our heart. Fred, along with his brother, Nancy’s Uncle Joe, were inventive and passionate. Their collection and restoration evolved into what is now the Heidrick Ag History Center in Woodland.

Nancy was family woman who loved unconditionally. She is remembered by those close to her as a pillar in the community, who displayed the true meaning of family.

The museum appreciates her devotion to the preservation of California’s agricultural history, and continued contributions through her family.

Aug. 4, 1937 – Dec. 29, 2014

Heidrick Ag History Center unveils 45,000 sq. ft. rental space

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Screenshot 2014-12-13 11.33.00

The Heidrick Ag History Museum and Event Center excitedly announces the addition of a fourth rental facility, the East Wing, now available for event rental and tours. With a temperature controlled floating space of up to 45,000 square feet, 16’ by 16’ roll-up doors, an onsite full-scale commercial kitchen, and 30-foot tall ceilings, the non-profit event and cultural destination facility can comfortably accommodate the most populous events. Provide your dignitaries a grand entrance into the event seated in a Model A, or maybe even a 1925 fire engine, through an edifice adorn by treasures of California’s rich artifacts. The venue is now available for trade shows, large-scale conferences, and personal special events, with customized accommodations to make every booking completely unique.

With four unique event spaces available including a large banquet hall, unique agricultural equipment museum, beautifully manicured garden courtyard, the Heidrick Ag History Center has been Yolo County’s premiere event venue for nearly 20 years, hosting a range of events from conferences and corporate parties, to weddings and quinceaneras and personal parties.

“Little do most folks know about the treasures that line our walls.” explained Executive Director Lorili Ostman, “Alongside our rare tractors, our collections include classic cars, a vintage airplane, army vehicles, and more, ranging from barn fresh to meticulously restored artifacts.”

Clients looking for a venue outside of the standard four-white walls can host their guests in a stress-free affair, with attention to detail and superior service, alongside an array of amenities available onsite.

“By hosting events here, our clients can incorporate our lovely collections into their theme, photos, and event atmosphere,” she added.

The Heidrick Ag History and Event Center is conveniently located just off of Interstate 5 in Woodland, only eight miles from the Sacramento International Airport. The addition of the East Wing has given Woodland the opportunity to become an event destination, with the facility already booked for a variety of events in 2015, including the Yolo Outdoor Expo in March, as well as the Last Call Car Show in October.

The Heidrick Ag History Museum has been working to cultivate an appreciation of the rich agricultural history, not only in Yolo and its surrounding counties, but throughout California, since founding in 1982, expanding the museum into a banquet facility in 1997. This expansion has worked to manifest a community relationship, as the home of the rarest collection of tractors in the nation.

The museum winter hours are Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m., with docent tours available. Call 530-666-9700 to make special arrangements for larger groups. Visit www.aghistory.org for more information, and search “Heidrick” on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

Contact: Lindsey Hickman, Marketing Specialist

Phone: (530) 666-9700 x 101

 

World War I Exhibition, November 1-30, 2014

In commemoration of World War I, the Heidrick Ag History Center is proud to exhibit a rare collection of WWI vehicles vital to the evolution in military machinery, November 1st- 30th.  To memorialize the events and honor side -1918 USA ''Liberty'' Standard Type B Flatbed 3the servicemen and women of World War I, museum guests are invited to contribute non-returnable photos, documents, and items to be displayed in a temporary World War I Memorial installation hosted on-site.  Plan your visit to this special exhibition and learn about World War I advancements through technology.

World War I

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War was a global war centered in Europe that began on July 28, 1914 and lasted until November 11, 1918.  More than 9 million combatants and 7 million civilians died as a result of the war.  The casualty rate was exacerbated by the belligerents’ technological and industrial sophistication. It was one of the deadliest conflicts in history, paving the way for major political changes, including revolutions in transport and weaponry.

Holt 120 HP 1917 WWI

Holt 120 HP, 1917, 6-cylinder, 26,500 pounds, gas
It is said that the Holt 120 was the model that set the new world record for tractor pulling in 1914 (about the time of World War I) at Fremont, Nebraska.
By: F Hal Higgins “The California Farm Observer”

The home front of the United States in World War I saw a systematic mobilization of the entire population and the entire economy to produce the soldiers, food supplies, munitions and money needed to win the war.

The war came in the midst of the Progressive Era, when efficiency and expertise were highly valued. Therefore the federal government (and states as well) set up a multitude of temporary agencies to bring together the expertise necessary to redirect the economy and society into the production of munitions and food necessary for the war, as well as the production of ideas necessary to motivate the people.

Holt Fills War Orders

The Holt Manufacturing Company produced tractors used for every power need in 1917.

They were used in agriculture, mining, lumber, snow removal, road building, industrial and military. The Holt Manufacturing Company’s initial products focused on agricultural machinery and were distributed internationally. The traction machines were built at Holt’s plants in Stockton California, and Peoria Illinois.

Holt 120 HP 1917  6 cylinder  26,500 pounds Gas

Holt 120 HP detail 
1917
6 cylinder
26,500 pounds
Gas

During World War I, Holt tractors were used to replace horses to haul artillery and other supplies. The Quartermaster Corps also used them to haul long trains of freight wagons over the unimproved dirt tracks behind the front.

By 1916, about 1,000 of Holt’s 120 horsepower Caterpillar tractors were used by the British in World War I.  “We have been shipping two Caterpillars per day to the British government for the past eighteen months,” said Pliny E. Holt of Stockton.  “All of the motors are manufactured in Stockton.  We ship them to our Peoria plant, where the Caterpillars are assembled.  We have no direct knowledge of the purpose for which they are to be used. They are shipped as agricultural machinery.  Of course, we have representatives in England, but they are sworn to secrecy.  If the Caterpillars are armored, that is done after they reach England.  We have sent some to France and some to Russia.  So far as I know, the tractors were used only to tow big guns.”  (Stockton, San Joaquin County, Ca—Tuesday, September 19, 1916)

Until recently, these Caterpillars were designed for modern farming, but in WWI they were transformed into fighting machines.  The way they hurdled trenches, crawled over shell craters and through swamps and marshes surpassed the horse drawn age of the tractors predecessor.

The 1915 World War I relic was sent to the Fred Heidrick Ranch in Woodland where it was renovated for exhibition with other tractors.  It is currently displayed in the West Wing at the Heidrick Ag History Center.  Originally, the gasoline powered rig was shipped to France where it was expected to haul big cannons around the Western Front. (Daily Enterprise, Bill McKenna)  But for reasons unknown, the tractor never left the dock in France.  After the war, the tractor was returned to the United States and it was used on the Hedrick Ranch near Sunnymead from 1920 to 1932.  The tractor was a real workhorse.

10 Ton Artillery Tractor

10-Ton Artillery Tractor 45 HP 19,000 pounds Model of 1917 4 cylinder Built in Peoria Illinois

10-Ton Artillery Tractor
45 HP 19,000 pounds Model of 1917
4 cylinder
Built in Peoria Illinois

The 10-ton artillery tractor was developed for WWI because of the mortality rate of horses.  This vehicle is currently on view in the East Wing at the Heidrick Ag History Center.  These tractors solved transportation problems that were too stiff for animals or motor trucks.  “Since the British army adopted the Holt engine, the horseshoer’s have had a lot less to do.” (Caterpillar Times for March 1915, “Our Page of War News”).

The standard U.S. 10-ton artillery tractor was one of the most advanced and most efficient tractors in 1917.  It is a self-propelled track-laying road vehicle.  The advantage of this type of tractor for military purposes lies in its ability to negotiate soft or uneven surfaces.  The general design and construction of the 10-ton tractor use differs from that of the modern motor truck because the tractor is designed to pull ordinance equipment, not carry a load.

Holt tractors were also the inspiration for the development of the British and French tanks, which profoundly altered ground warfare tactics.

WWI Ambulance Hupp Motor Car Company U.S. Army Chassis No. 30128

WWI Ambulance
Hupp Motor Car Company
U.S. Army Chassis No. 30128
The Hupp Motor Car Company, was a Detroit, MI, known for the “Hupmobile,” first introduced in 1909.  Hupmobiles were used in WWI as staff cars, to visit front lines, and as ambulances.  Hupp continued production of newer models of the Hupmobile through 1940, ultimately producing a half million vehicles.

side - Holt and Swinton Stockton

Holt and Swinton, Stockton, CA

On April 22, 1918 British Army officer Colonel Ernest Dunlop Swinton visited Stockton while on a tour of the USA. Swinton publicly thanked Benjamin Holt and his workforce for their contribution to the war effort.  During 1914 and 1915, Swinton had advocated basing some sort of armored fighting vehicle on Holt’s caterpillar tractors, but without success. Although Britain did develop tanks, they came from a separate source and were not directly influenced by Holt machines. After the appearance of tanks on the battlefield, Holt built a prototype, the Gas-electric tank, but it did not enter production.

After the war ended, Holt focused less on agricultural machinery and more on producing road-building equipment.

The Hey Day of Hot Rods

Nearly 150 hot rods, muscle cars, and classic cars of all kinds cruised into the Heidrick Ag History Center on Saturday, April 5, to launch Hot Rods: Wheels in Fields.  More than 1,200 guests marveled at the new exhibits created by So-Cal Speed Shop of Sacramento, Gus Gustafson, Rich Cleland, Bruce Woodward, Joe Heidrick, the Tuesday Volunteer Crew, and our dedicated staff and volunteers.

For Hot Rods: Wheels in Fields, So-Cal Speed Shop P4050134 courtesy Gary Yeeengineered a historical replica of a garage and air tower like those found on rural properties during the 1930s and 1940s. New cars were too expensive for many people during the Great Depression, so young car enthusiasts refurbished old cars rescued from junk yards, often swapping out engines, transmissions, and other components.  Innovations led to distinctive cars with more powerful engines and other improvements.  These high-performance customized cars reflect the qualities of innovation, resourcefulness, and independence we associate with the culture of agriculture.

Hot-rodding stalled with the outbreak of World War II, however, when many young men were drafted into the armed forces.  Gasoline was rationed and auto and tractor manufacturers turned from making peacetime vehicles to assembling tanks and warplanes.

P4050240 courtesy Gary Yee

P4050116 courtesy Gary Yee

By 1946, decommissioned young men coming back from overseas brought the mechanical skills they had gained during the war, and returned to souping up cars in abandoned hangers.  Roadsters were all the rage, and by the late 1940s hot rods were popular.  1946-1949 is now considered the hey day of hot rods.

See magnificent examples of this legacy at the Hot Rods: Wheels in Fields exhibit in the Heidrick Ag History Center. The East Wing is open to tours only so be sure to call in advance.  Watch for more surprises at the Heidrick Ag History Center!

Open 10 am – 5 pm, Wed. – Sun.

530-666-9700

http://www.aghistory.org/

Photos courtesy of Gary Yee

A Tractor that Walks?

The Fageol 9-12 “Walking” Tractor, 3500lbs, 1919. Heidrick Ag History Center.

Our collection here at the Heidrick Ag History Center includes this little tractor.  Nestled in a line of other comparably sized tractors, you might first notice its because of its brown color.  But what really makes this tractor distinctive are its back wheels.  These back wheels are oddly shaped with grousers that look like spikes, and differ from the wheels of any other tractor that we have in our collection.

Notice the spiked or wedged legs on the Fageol Walking Tractor. These kept the wheel rims from touching the ground, and made the tractor seem like it was "walking" on it. Heidrick Ag History Center Archives.

When farmers began working the fields in California, they quickly realized that the tractors they had been using on the East coast and in the mid-West were not suited for the soft California soil.  The rims of the wheels of many of these tractors sunk into the ground, and were difficult to get out once stuck.  First manufactured by the Fageol Motor Company in 1917, the Fageol 9-12 was an early attempt at trying to prevent tractors from sinking into the soft California soil.  The spiked grousers, or legs, prevented the tractor from sinking into the soil, and in fact made it seem like the tractor almost floated above the soil.  The wedged grousers ensured that the wheel rims never even touched the ground.  The way that the tractor moved above the ground made some people think that the tractor was actually “walking” on the soil, thus earning the Fageol 9-12 the nickname as the “walking tractor.”

Fageol Walking Tractor in use at a home orchard. No date. Heidrick Ag History Center Archives.

The Fageol 9-12 “Walking” Tractor design was unique not only because of its “walking” wheels, but it was also small enough to navigate small orchards and vineyards.  Advertisements for the tractor celebrated its “Tom Thumb” size, and marveled that at 3500 pounds it weighed only as much as a few horses.  The wheel design and size worked well on California’s orchards and vineyards, but its price tag of $1575 was too expensive for small farmers for the tractor to really catch on.  Even though the “walking” tractor design was discontinued by 1938, this unusual tractor is a great piece of California’s agricultural history!

Come learn more and see a Fageol 9-12 Walking Tractor in person at the Heidrick Ag History Center!