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

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

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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

 

Help Restore a 1917 Classic Truck

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The White truck needs your help! With a few finishing touches, including new rear wheels and solid core tires, this beautiful “C-cab” commercial truck could join our growing transportation collection. Would you like to help bring the White truck to its former glory? Make an on-line donation at  http://www.aghistory.org/support-us/donate/ and select “White Truck” in the drop down menu. We’ll post updates as the restoration proceeds.White Truck 4

A Tractor Experiment

Caterpillar Model Expo 20; Caterpillar Tractor Co., 1927; 7000lbs. Heidrick Ag History Center.

The Caterpillar Twenty tractor has the distinction of being the first tractor designed by the Caterpillar Tractor Co.  It is easily recognizable as an early Caterpillar because of its grey color. (Many people today associate Caterpillars with their yellow color, but in the first few years after the 1925 merger between the C.L. Best Tractor Co. and the Holt Manufacturing Company, Caterpillar tractors were actually grey.  In 1932, the company offered either grey or yellow, but in December of 1932 the Best company decided they would only produce tractors in the standard yellow color. This little tractor might not be yellow, but it does hold an important place in Caterpillar history as a machine that combined the expertise of both Best and Holt.

Caterpillar Twenty Tractor Manual, Capterpillar Tractor Co., San Leandro, CA: 1927. Heidrick Ag History Center Archives.

Design on the new Caterpillar Twenty began in 1926.  The design was supposed to introduce a smaller, more affordable tractor, and was meant to replace the “2 Ton Caterpillar” previously produced by Holt.  Advertisements about the Caterpillar Twenty lauded the tractor as being “new in size, new in rating, new in price, [and] new in that it embodies the latest accumulation of the many years of “Caterpillar” experience.”  But how did Caterpillar use the accumulated knowledge of both the Best Tractor Co. and the Holt Manufacturing Company to create such a “new” tractor?

By letting a teenager try to run it into the ground, of course.  In 1927, two experimental Caterpillar Twenty tractors were produced with the sole purpose of testing them for flaws. One of these experimental Twenty tractors was given to Caterpillar Chairman C.L. Best’s teenage son, Dan. Fifteen year old Dan was told to drive the tractor anywhere and everywhere on the grounds of Caterpillar’s San Leandro factory.  After stressing the machine as best he could, Dan reported back the faults that he noticed.  Production on the Caterpillar 20 began in 1927, and was successfully produced until 1933.

Caterpillar Model Expo 20: Caterpillar Tractor Co., 1927, 7000 lbs. Heidrick Ag History Center.

Although the Model Twenty had flaws and was not ready for production, the experimental tractor was used for a few years at C.L. Best’s Diamond B ranch in Livingston, California. The tractor was later saved from the scrap piles and given to C.L.’s grandson, Dan Best II, to be used on his Woodland farm.  After being parked on the Woodland farm for some time, the one-of-a-kind Caterpillar Model Twenty found its home at the Heidrick Ag History Center.

Read more about the Bests and the formation of the Caterpillar Tractor Co. in Ed and Sue Claessen’s new book, Making Tracks: C.L. Best and the Caterpillar Tractor Co.  Both authors will be at the Heidrick Ag History Center on Friday, September 23 for a book signing; RSVP to the event by emailing aghistory@aghistory.org or by calling Rocio at 530 666 9700.