Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Antique engine museum displays American history in action

Down the road from Fallbrook, the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum in Vista is a real jewel of history to visit and to share with friends, family, and kids of all ages. It is a great Disney e-ticket in my opinion, for those of you who remember them.

It is a museum of days gone by, with displays of mechanical ingenuity in crafts associated with the early days of the American farm and rural communities that helped build our great nation.

The focus on this period is from the early 1800s up to the 1900s, in an era gone by, and offers something for everyone to experience and learn at this museum that was started in 1976.

The museum is on 55 acres, and the founders have been gathering farm equipment like tractors, combines, old cars, trucks, steam-rollers, and machinery from all over the country. It is one of the largest collections of these machines on the West Coast and a real adventure to experience.

It is educational, with many recreational exhibits, demonstrations, activities, and it is open to the public throughout the year on certain days.

Machines range from large to small operating steam engines, to a wood sawmill cutting lumber slabs from massive logs in one demonstration area. You can see a threshing machine removing seeds from the shafts and then compacting those stems into bales of straw for farm use.

You will see a collection of farm wagons, coaches, buckboards, and buggies, with a fringe surrey on the top. This is how the settlers moved across the country in the early pioneering days through hills and dales and across the mighty Rocky Mountains to unknown territories.

Plows of all types are on display from when men started clearing the land and planting crops, while others worked in the vast woodlands, cutting trees to make their log cabins or sod huts. It was laborious work with extended hours from sun-up to dusk, seven days a week. And it was indeed a generation to admire for their stamina, fortitude, and courage in crossing uncharted new lands as they migrated westward.

You will see weaving looms and spinning wheels at the museum from the Civil War to modern times with a computer-operated loom. On some demonstration days, ladies are spinning raw wool into yarn that can then be used on the handlooms of all sizes to make assorted fabrics, rugs, and linens for use in the early homesteads.

Furniture was handcrafted from the trees of the woods, and a chair could be a simple carved tree-stump. These early pioneers were genuine craftsmen and hands-on skilled survivors of those days.

There is a working blacksmith shop with forges used in demonstrations to understand how tools are made, and it was the skilled blacksmith who made the shovels, scythes, rakes, hammers, and horseshoes.

Towns and villages started forming as the railroad tracks were laid. Those iron-horse trains were the lifeline bringing in goods of all kinds and everything needed to create new settlements across the land, and part of that history is on display at the museum.

Suppose you are a model train buff as I am. In that case, you have to enter the building that houses all types of small N scale trains with whole towns and villages to appreciate how the railroads and the mighty locomotive were instrumental in establishing America.

There are running tractors shuttling visitors in wagons around the outdoor museum and the different barns within the compound to see the many implements of all types from yesteryear.

The museum has an extensive collection of kerosene and gasoline running pumps used in bringing up water from deep in the earth, and the water was used to irrigate crops and for domestic use.

Visiting this unique museum, you will appreciate the tools and engines of that era. It is a real lesson in our history, and I applaud man's ingenuity and creativeness on how the west was won through the formidable physical challenges of men and machines.

The younger generation needs to see this museum and understand that perhaps some of their great-great-grandparents helped make America, for I believe in passing the baton of understanding where we all have come from.

Part of my childhood was spent in Northern Sweden working with my granddad out in the forests, cutting down trees, loading those cut logs onto wooden sleds and, by horse, pulled them down to the river, where we unloaded them into the fast rushing river. The river floated those logs out to the sawmills down on the Baltic coast for processing into lumber of all types and shipped worldwide.

Having this local farm museum is close to my heart, for it was those European immigrants that came across the pond and helped make this land that gives us so much, from the east coast to the western states.

There are annual events held at the museum throughout the year, but I suggest you call first to find out the current status, 760-941-1791, or check out

Roger Boddaert, Maker of Natural Gardens & The Tree Man of Fallbrook, can be reached for creative landscape designs and consulting for creative tree work at 760-728-4297.


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