Museum History

The Early Years

Paul Shirley remembers back to 1976 when he and Ed Fincham had opened an auto repair and John Deere lawn and garden equipment shop in Louisville. They had taken a Hercules engine in trade and mentioned this to Harold Derushia, a machinist with the Plattsburg Motor Service in Massena. He told Paul and Ed about a group that was getting together to talk about old engines and invited them to join them. Meanwhile, a customer in their shop had wanted to buy the old Hercules, so Paul decided he needed to learn more about them and their value.

There were two or three informal meetings before the group decided to form a club. At a meeting at Leon Page’s house in Stockholm on December 12, 1976, bylaws and officers were approved by those present, officially forming the St. Lawrence Gas & Steam Engine Association. The twelve founding members were Harold Derushia, Paul Shirley, Leon Page, Ray Page, Vernon Hogle, Harlow Hogle, Rodney Hogle, Kyle Latrace, Edward Fincham, Brice Winters, Leonard VanEss, and Henry Besaw. The first officers were Harold Derushia, Director; Harlow Hogle, Asst. Director; Paul Shirley, Secretary; Ed Fincham Treasurer; and Vern Hogle, Leonard VanNess, and Brice Winters, Directors; Leon Page, Senior Advisor.

The purpose of the new Association was the preservation and enjoyment of any type of historical or special interest power plant designed to make production of man’s necessities and sports easier. Dues were set at $5.00 per year, a rate not changed for the next 22 years. Dues cover the cost of the newsletter. The Association has a complete set for anyone interested. The original bylaws called for four meetings each year with a dinner meeting in early spring to plan summner activities and a banquet in January or February. Membership would be by application and sponsorship of another member.

The first show was held in June, 1977 at the Louisville, NY Fireman’s Field Days. There were 26 engines, 2 tractors, and a Model A pickup.

Getting Incorporated

The Association was incorporated in the spring of 1983. This allowed the organization to insure itself against liability. As a non-profit organization, it also made it possible to receive the gift, the $1.00 purchase, of a steam engine from Saint Lawrence County. Harold Deruchia donated an International gas engine which was sold to raise money to pay for legal fees.

Leadership has been provided by Presidents including Harold Derushia (3 years), Paul Shirley (6 years), Bill Pharoah, Ron Day (3 years), Gary Crowe (7 years), Marty 0′ Such (2 years), and Bill Shirley (2 years).

Other officers have included Ed Fincham, Gary Hargrave, D. Woodside, Lowell Nicholson, Linda Parmeter, and Roger Austin.

Annual banquets have been held every year since 1978.

Choosing Madrid

On January 29, 2006, members of the museum chose the Madrid site to develop permanent museum facilities. The selection was made at the annual meeting in Heuvelton on 1/29/06, culminating a 30 month search. The farm is located at the intersection of State Highway 310 and 345 in Madrid, NY . It consists of 115 acres. Facing Highway 345 are a white house, dairy barn, milk house, grainery, piggery, and outhouse. The farm is reportedly over 100 years old.

The farm was offered exclusively, at about one half appraised value, to the museum by Leon and Carole Goolden of Colton, NY. They had read articles about the museum’s plans in the newspaper and felt that their farm met it’s requirements. It has been in their family for over 70 years. Their generous offer is intended to benefit the region and be a tribute to the parents and grandparents of Mr. Goolden.

Creating the Development Fund

In March of 2006, with nearly one third of the 120,000 dollar goal in the Museum’s development fund, President Goodyear announced a membership fund raising drive to show future donors our serious commitment to the project. A suggestion of 200 dollars per member, in the next year, was made. Saleable equipment donations would be accepted. Donations may be made in a lump sum, quartly payments or whatever a member is comfortable with. Larger donations are encouraged. No member is in any way required to donate any sum but all donations for the development fund are greatly appreciated. This will give us a good jump start to the future approach of soliciting grants, corporate funding and other income sources .

Anyone wishing to make a donation should mail it to the St. Lawrence Power & Equipment Museum, PO Box 400, Madrid, NY 13660. On the check please note the donation is for the development fund. Those interested in becoming a member of the Museum should send their name, contact information, and $15.00 dues to the same address. Spouses of members, interested in joining, may do so at no additional cost. Contact any trustee for further information. Click on the officers link for that information.

The Closing & The Start Of Madrid’s New Museum

On August 12, 2006 President Ross Goodyear announced that the museum closed on the land and is the new owner as of that day. The next day on August 13, 2006 there was an Open House and Ribbon Cutting at the farm at 1755 State Route 345, Madrid.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *