A Wonderful Little Story About the Cumberland Valley Antique Engine & Machinery Association
The time was nearing for the 1982 Franklin County Fair near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and the agriculture displays promised to be the most exciting ever. However, the week prior to opening, one of the major state sponsored displays cancelled, leaving a large dedicated tent un-occupied.
One of the members on the Fair Board suggested an antique equipment display to fill the space and Aden Hawbaker’s name was suggested as a possible resource. Aden was not only one of the most respected antique machinery collectors in our community, but also knew many of the other collectors because of his knowledge and expertise with early magnetos and ignition systems used on antique equipment. The call went out and local antique equipment collectors were not only delighted, but eager for an excuse to show their “toys”. The tent was filled…room had to be made for tractors of the past. An old hand pump was motorized to pump water…peanuts roasted in a vintage roaster, “hit and miss” engines popped and banged…and the people loved it! The fellowship among the displayers was wonderful, and stories were spun to anyone who would stop and listed to the old timers.
A roster was made of all the people displaying equipment. Then the following January, (1983), a post card was sent to all on the roster inviting them to John Bricker’s Welding Shop to discuss the formation of a club or organization. More than 50 interested people showed up for that meeting…and the rest is “history”.
In 1991 Mr. Wilbur Mackey, on e of the founding members agreed to sell the Association land for its’ permanent home. In December of that year, the PA Department of Environmental Resources cleared the way for land transfer. Early in 1992, 29.5 acres of land West of the Mackey’s camp ground near Chambersburg PA was acquired. The CVAEAMA paid the full purchase price for this land in cash.
Between the time of the purchase of the property and the Association’s annual show in August, plans were drawn and laid out for the Show Grounds. Light poles were planted, and lights were hung. Loading docks were built, a water well drilled, and running water installed.
The construction of the first building was delayed by The State Historical Commission. The building permit was finally issued on Tuesday, three days before the opening of the ’92 annual show. By Thursday afternoon, the 36’ x 90’ pole building was under roof, complete with running water and a temporary kitchen and dining room. The building was called “the miracle building” by some, because of the speed with which it was erected.
By the time of the 1993 annual show, a permanent kitchen and dining area had been erected. A roof over the Bar-B-Q Pit area and an additional 36’ x 90’ pole storage building was completed. The original building which housed the temporary kitchen was then converted to a storage building. Additional light poles and lights were added and a new driveway was cut. The wooded area was cleaned up and passage ways opened for display areas in the shade. In the 1990’s a new 56’ x 200’ building to house the steam displays and another building for the museum and library was constructed.
CVAEAMA is registered in Pennsylvania as a Non-profit Educational Organization, chartered to promote educational and charitable purposes, including, but not limited to bringing together men, women, and youths interested in antique engines and equipment, as well as to own and operate workshops, show grounds, and museum and library.
The organization manages one of the largest, most interesting, and well-attended antique machinery shows in the East each August. The show is attended by thousands, many coming from as far away as Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Indiana, and Ohio.
Local Industry That Benefitted CVAEMA
The Cumberland Valley is rich in manufacturing history. The Frick Company, in Waynesboro and the Emerson Brantingham Engine Company of Greencastle, were important players in the development of Steam Traction Engines, saw mill equipment, threshing machines, and other farm related machinery. In Chambersburg, The Chambersburg Hammer Co., later known as Chambersburg Engineering became a world wide supplier of manufacturer’s tooling and castings. The Chambersburg Paper Mill manufactured paper goods. T.B. Woods Foundry produced gearing and shivs for manufacturers around the world. The Quincy Engine Works, near Waynesboro has their own iron mine and were well known for their innovative efforts in the development of early gas engines. The Wolf Company, in Chambersburg was developing and manufacturing milling and seed cleaning equipment. All of these companies and many more were contributing to the industrial revolution and the explosion of manufacturing in America.
The Cumberland Valley Antique Engine and Machinery Association has been fortunate to be the recipient of many valuable examples of machines, products and historical literature, documenting the history of these companies and their role in our local heritage. The Association has been fortunate to be able to acquire many other valuable pieces from estates, businesses and collectors in this area.
Each April and August, the CVAEMA opens its grounds to the public for a weekend of demonstrations, displays, activities and fellowship for all interested in the history of this magnificent equipment and engineering of the past. There are always activities planned for the entire family including children’s games, rides, and a beautiful play area. Demonstrations for the adults include threshing, saw-milling, shingle making, broom making, an antique tractor pull, an antique equipment auction, wonderful food, and on and on. There are even opportunities to participate in many of the displays and demonstrations.
Come! Bring the entire family. Enjoy all three days of fun, nostalgia, and reminiscing as well as receiving an education on how the ingenious designs of the past brought us to the technology of the present.