On August 24 & 25, 1985 the Westminster Historical Society of Westminster, Vermont hosted a special gasoline engine show to honor The Abenaque Machine Works. This company manufactured engines, tractors, concrete mixers and water systems from 1893 to 1920 in the part of Westminster known as Westminster Station. They also sold engine operated farm machinery such as ensilage cutters, hay presses and saw rigs.
In spite of the inclement weather on Sunday, the show was a success. There were 121 exhibitors from Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island, North Carolina, and Quebec. A conservative estimate would put the number of engines at 250, as many exhibitors had several. Of this number 28 were Abenaque engines, probably the largest gathering of this make since the factory closed. Both tank and hopper models were represented in horsepower ranging from 2 to 15. Many of the engines were in operation, demonstrating their many uses. One Abenaque was sawing wood with a drag saw while another was using a circular saw.
The founder of the works was Frederick Gilbert. We were most fortunate in having three generations of his family present at the show. One of these was Mrs. Colgate Gilbert, his daughter-in-law, who had been most helpful with the historical research.
I was pleased to find many of the Abenaques unrestored. These gave everyone the feeling they had just stopped work, which is what I like in an old machine.
In addition to the engines, a number of old cars and trucks were present. One of particular interest to us was a 1929 MAC owned by Holmes Transportation, which has a terminal in Westminster. This truck was one of their original delivery trucks.
The Historical Society has written a history of the Abenaque Machine Works, however, we realize there is still more information around. We would very much like to learn more verifiable facts anyone would be kind enough to furnish us. We will continue to record these and have them available to any interested person.
We would like to start a registry of all the existing Abenaque engines.
This list would have as much information on each engine as was known, serial number, date made, original owner, etc. Anyone who wished not to have his name known to other than us would be listed as anonymous. We would also like to know if any compressors or concrete mixers still exist, for that matter anything bearing their name. How about a tractor? Please help us with this project by sending the information to The Westminster Historical Society, Patricia Haas, RFD#3, Box 634, Putney, Vermont 05346.