Safely stored inside two large barns on Sound Avenue sit the remnants of Long Island’s agricultural and industrial past.
They house the relics owned by the Long Island Antique Power Association, a group of machinery enthusiasts who have spent the last three decades rescuing and restoring antique tractors, vintage construction cranes and other types of machinery from the scrap pile. From massive steam rollers to tiny working models, the collection — which includes items that date back to the late 1800’s — is carefully maintained by more than 100 club members who meet regularly to work on the machines and share their expertise.
Club members are especially proud of their latest acquisition, a 1928 Enterprise sawmill.
That sawmill will be one of the main attractions at LIAPA’s 23rd Annual Summer Show this weekend.
LIAPA’s annual tractor pulls and hayrides have always been popular events on the North Fork and this year the group is going one step further. They will be showcasing actual antique working machines in operation. Visitors will be able to watch the sawmill mill logs into lumber, the massive tractors will plow, a giant crane will lift and dig dirt.
“As the club’s collection expands, we want to show more of how these antique machines operated and were used on a day-to-day basis”, said LIAPA Board Member Bill Pfeffer. “We want to show them performing the tasks they were built for plowing, cultivating, even shelling corn.”
In 2014 several group members traveled all the way to Western Pennsylvania, where they dismantled the sawmill and brought it back in pieces to be re-constructed on the North Fork. For the last year that same team has meticulously rebuilt and restored the mill to its original working condition.
The approximately 40-foot long machine can cut 16-foot long logs. It takes four men to operate the saw, as the five-foot in diameter blade cuts through a board in under 30 seconds flat. The sawmill is now cutting and milling the boards for the barn that will eventually house it.
Other attractions at the event will include working steam engines, antique road building equipment, as well as a display of antique trucks and military equipment. This year the club will also feature different kinds of farm equipment like plows, corn shellers and hay mowers. They have invited collectors to display their vintage machines and, of course, the club will hold their popular tractor pulls.
“Preserve the past for the future” is LIAPA’s motto. Creating a link from yesterday to today is what club members hope to do by preserving antique farm and industrial equipment for tomorrow’s generations. The club plans one day to create a full-time working farm museum to tell the story of Long Island’s farming history, before it becomes just a memory.
“We really are just a bunch of guys who like fixing up old stuff and we hope people will be interested in what we’ve been working on,” said Pfeffer.
The Long Island Antique Power Association’s 23rd Annual Summer Show takes place this Saturday, July 11 and Sunday, July 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 6000 Sound Avenue in Riverhead. Admission is $7.00, children under 12 and veterans are free. For more information please visit www.liapa.com