Connecticut Antique Machinery Association Rich with History

Connecticut Antique Machinery Association puts the focus on agricultural history

| February 2000

Whoever said that the New York metropolitan area wasn't the place for a farm collector never visited Kent, Conn. Not much longer than two hours outside New York City is the quaint backdrop of the Appalachian Trail, antique shops, book sales, town monuments and, in the autumn months, beautiful foliage. Welcome to Kent, Connecticut, home of the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association (CAMA). 

Connecticut is rich with fertile farm land. Once known for its tobacco crop, this New England state is equally rich with history – particularly agricultural history.

To appreciate the state's agricultural history, it's important to understand the technological developments that originated in Connecticut. The state was at the heart of the industrial north during the onslaught of the industrial revolution. It was once the center of production for watches and clocks. Waterbury, at the state's center, was once known as the brass capital of the world. Elias Howe developed the sewing machine in Connecticut in the late 1800s, and the Singer corporation was headquartered there for years. Eli Whitney developed the concept of interchangeable parts in Connecticut. For years, the state was a leader in technology development.

The role of agriculture in Connecticut, though, has diminished over the past century. Once a leading producer of tobacco, the fertile Connecticut valleys today see only limited agricultural production. Much of Connecticut Antique Machinery Association's collection consists of equipment found locally; other pieces were engineered with locally-developed materials and technology. The association strives to preserve that heritage and that of agricultural and industrial production.

Connecticut Antique Machinery Association has been a non-profit corporation for almost 20 years. Through foundation support, the association has been able to erect several exhibit buildings with a display of nearly 100 pre-1950 tractors, five working steam engines and almost 10 working oil field pumping engines.

Connecticut Antique Machinery Association's collection of tractors is one of the most diverse in the Northeast. From the days of steam traction engines through the development of the gasoline tractor, the display spans the first half of this century. The collection includes pieces from manufacturers such as Huber, Avery, Buffalo-Springfield, Fairbanks-Morse, Case, Twin Cities, McCormick-Deering, Caterpillar, Cletrac, John Deere, International, Minneapolis, Hart-Parr and Oliver, all restored and in working order. Also on display are early farm implements such as threshers, grain reaper/binders and plows.