Fair Steam Display

Antique Museum and Steam Area at the Allegany County Fair

The working steam museum, at the Allegany County Fair, contains tools, machinery, and steam boilers from the 1800's to the present time. Considered about the largest working steam exhibit in New York State, it is unique to a county fair. Each year at fair time, you can see an operating sawmill, threshing machines, old tractors and other farming equipment.

The steam display started in 1965 by Merel Case and Bud Wakefield, of Angelica. These men wanted to save this part of history so they purchased their own steam and gas engines, and brought them to the fairgrounds. They wanted others to see what they had grown up with and enjoy the trip back in time. Over the years, the museum has grown with many other exhibitors and exhibits from Allegany and neighboring counties.

Inside the building, you will find many scale models of machines that were in use over one hundred years ago. Carroll Burdick, Angelica, has handcrafted these replica models. Farm, household, and shop equipment, donated by Allegany County residents, line the walls. There is a collection of early wrenches donated by Neil Backer as well as a license plate display with plates from 1910-1930. New York State issued the first license plate in 1910. Before 1910, you received stickers and you made your own plate.

Some of the machines on display are a steam engine taken from a dynamite factory in Bolivar, an engine that ran a water pump for the village of Friendship from 1909-1959, and a 1912 Rumsey engine, manufactured in Friendship. An engine, recovered from the site of the first oil well drilled in Allegany County at Petrolia is also on display. Also displayed is a wooden land roller, made at the O'Donnell foundry in Andover. Numerous old tractors are sitting outside as well as in use around the building.

As this exhibit outgrew its space, the Fair remodeled the building behind the steam building and filled it with other donations. This building houses a complete blacksmith shop donated by Mike Cleary of Bolivar, flourmills and scales donated by Mike Hulse of Andover as well as numerous items donated by Carroll Burdick of Angelica.

In 1994, Merel Case and John Cronk purchased a 1912 Frick sawmill, that runs by steam or gas power, to add to the display. The Fair Board, in June 1989, purchased a 1915 Case Traction engine from Dan Redmond of Greenwood. This is in use during the Fair, Heritage Days and has been to Syracuse and the Washington County Fair.

The past is alive and well on the Allegany County Fair Grounds. You may hear the steam whistles blowing or see some of the old engines or hear the whine of the saw and remember times that used to be.


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