| July 2004

Summer fun awaits at California's Heidrick Ag History Center

Vintage farm equipment museums dot the American landscape. Some are low-budget, mom-and-pop affairs and others house collections worth many thousands of dollars. With summer travel season in full swing, it's time I told you about one of the greatest rusty iron museums I've ever visited.

Two years ago, my wife, Nancy, and I spent three weeks wandering around California. We crossed the Mojave Desert and saw parts of Los Angeles. We drove into the San Gabriel Mountains where we could look down on L.A., which couldn't be seen due to a grayish-yellow layer of smog. We drove north along the coastal highway, visited Hearst's castle and saw Big Sur before reaching the Monterey Peninsula where we drove around the famous Pebble Beach golf course. We crossed the fertile San Joachin Valley several times and toured Yosemite National Park where we saw Bridalveil Falls and walked through a tunnel carved through a giant redwood tree.

We spent several days in San Francisco, then drove across the Golden Gate Bridge and checked out some of the wineries in the Napa Valley. Finally, we reached Woodland, which is about 20 miles northwest of Sacramento.

Woodland holds a special treasure for rusty iron lovers: the Heidrick Ag History Center. The modern facility houses the Fred C. Heidrick collection of old tractors and farm machinery in a 130,000-square-foot building, as well as the vast antique truck collection once owned by A.W. 'Pop' Hayes.

The two are separate, but one ticket gives a visitor admission to both the Heidrick and Hayes collections. Since I love old farm machinery and old trucks, I spent about five hours in the museum (Nancy wasn't quite as enthusiastic, but she had a book to read) and took about 150 photos (I ran out of film or I'd have taken more).

Pop Hays started hauling live chickens into San Francisco in 1929, with a new Chevy truck. When Pop sold his 100-truck hauling business and retired in 1978, he needed something to do. So, at age 76, he restored a 1929 Chevy truck, which was the start of the present collection that numbers more than 100 vehicles.