Gary Jondle's J.D. 'D' with Al Brodecky's Case separator, June 1982. Photo by George Reeves
In 1969 the California Early Days Gas Engine & Tractor Association was formed at Santee, California. At that time the goals were to build a steam and gas engine museum on the West coast, and to have a couple of threshing bees per year, as was happening in the Northern and Mid-Western part of the United States. The first thing was to incorporate under the above name and find a piece of ground suitable for threshing bees and one that we could call ours for a few years.
Since there were no rich uncles, it proved no easy task to locate the ground. In 1976 we found 35 acres at Vista, California, in a county park that we could lease for a very small amount. Again, since we had no large amounts of money (only what the club had earned working various fairs in California) it was not easy to get electricity, water, restrooms and a permanent building. Now, through a lot of blood, sweat and tears from many, many of the club members, we have had a full year's shows, have put up several buildings, and are ready to show the nation how proud we are of our accomplishments.
We probably have one of the biggest collections of huge stationary engines on the West coast. To name a few: 120 HP Western, 80 HP Western, 35 HP Kline, 15 HP Reid, 12 HP Reid, 30 HP Union Tool, 80 HP Clark and a Chicago Pneumatic.
We have a Holt Hillside Harvester in operation for the June show each year. In addition we do gas and steam stationary threshing, stationary bailing, country kitchen and parlor demonstrations, blacksmithing, soap making, cider making, quilting, Clydesdale draft horses working in the field or on a road grader, cutting and binding wheat. We have hay wagon and fire engine rides for the kiddies.
We are building a permanent kitchen and parlor, then a blacksmith shop and a covered bridge within the next couple of years.
When you snow birds come South for the winter, we invite you to come out if you want to get involved or just look, we're happy to have you. We are open as a free museum 7 days a week, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. We do ask a donation at the gate for our June and October shows.