The Ashtabula County Antique Engine Club was founded by a relatively small group of people who had a passion or, as some might say, an obsession with antique machinery. In the early 1980's this group became incorporated and began holding a two-day event on a local farmer's land in Wayne Township, Ashtabula County, Ohio.
For this event they invited anyone with antique engines, tractors, machinery or any items of historical significance, to be displayed for the public's education and enjoyment. The public response to the event was quite positive and soon the club's membership had grown to over 100 individuals from the surrounding area. By the end of the 1980's the two-day event had outgrown the farmer's field and the club had the resources to purchase a parcel of property nearby.
The purchase of the property has been the single biggest leap towards the club's goal. The property enabled the group to construct permanent displays as well as income-generating facilities to further it's goal. In the first few years the club constructed a food concession facility, a public restroom, a fully functional antique sawmill and a building to protect permanent displays of antique engines. Smaller buildings were added throughout the 1990's .
The club built an antique gas station where people can examine automobile-related antiques. Some people even bring their antique cars so they can take pictures of them at the pumps. An antique oil field engine building and pumping facility ( for display only ) were erected. There is a blacksmith shop complete with a "smithy" demonstrating the use of a forge so people can see how things were made of metal before the industrial age swept across America. In addition to the permanent display buildings the club has acquired many items including an antique combine, a thrashing machine, a baler, and a hay rake.
By the late 1990's the club was offered two buildings from the town of Andover in Ashtabula County Ohio. These buildings were the passenger train depot and the freight depot of Andover. The club welcomed the opportunity to add these buildings to their facility in order to help preserve American history for future generations. Through the help of outside funding the club has been able to add these buildings to it's property and is in the process of restoring the buildings to a safe and presentable condition.
As stated earlier the club's goal is to preserve items of historical significance for the education and enjoyment of the public both now and for future generations. This goal is for the benefit of visitors as well as the citizens of the surrounding area. The club now holds three shows per year. The original two-day event was expanded to the current three-day event. Additionally, a two-day event is held each Spring along with a two-day event in the Fall.
The main show held each July now attracts between six and eight thousand visitors each year and is reputed to be one of the largest tourist attractions in Ashtabula County. In addition to it's own shows the club property is used for other events including an antique car show, a bluegrass music festival, a craft show and a local historical society show. Some examples of community use of our facilities are the Pymatuning Valley School FFA's Haunted Halloween Hayride, practice field for PV school's cross-country team and by Boy Scouts competing for their Eagle Scout requirements.
The growth of the club has been almost overwhelming. For a person standing in that farmer's field in the early 1980's it would have been hard to imagine what the club has become. We now have over six hundred members and continue to grow each year. All of the positive public support is proof that the club is headed in the right direction. The club provides a place for all ages to visit the mechanical heritage of rural America.
Ashtabula County Antique Engine Club, Inc. is a non-profit 501(C)(3) corporation.