St. Lawrence Power and Equipment Museum presents 27th annual Old Fashioned Harvest Days

MADRID — While the price of gas jumped to more than $2.70 a gallon at the pumps this week, it was only 31 cents at the St. Lawrence Power and Equipment Museum in Madrid.

That was the price on the two pumps at a replica Texaco gas station that was among the exhibits at the 27th annual Old Fashioned Harvest Days.

“They’re probably from the ’40s or ’50s,” said Wayne Day, who was manning the station on Saturday. Mr. Day is a past president and board member for the St. Lawrence Power and Equipment Museum.

It’s retro inside the station, too, with a soda machine that will only set you back 65 cents for a Coca-Cola, a relic of a cash register, and parts for vehicles that are now considered classics.

Mr. Day said they had an actual station to copy when creating the one on the museum’s grounds. It’s modeled after a Texaco station that was owned by Bob Calnon and located at the intersection of Routes 310 and 345 in Madrid.

“It’s a replica of that,” he said.

Mr. Day said Mr. Calnon didn’t do any mechanical repairs at his station. He did, however, sell small grocery items and candies, and had the only place that sold beer on a Sunday morning.

Next to the gas station was a brand new building with a sign that identified it as “Heritage Fibers.” Inside, several women of were making quilts and rugs, while others were spinning yarn made from sheep’s wool.

“It’s the first time the building has been used,” Mr. Day said.

Phyllis Acres was working on a “penny rug,” a craft that dates back to the 1800s around the time of the Civil War. Thrifty homemakers would use scraps of wool from old clothes, blankets and hats to create designs for mats or rugs.

Pennies in those days were nearly twice the diameter of today’s pennies, and they were used as templates to create circles, which were then stitched to the backing.

“They were easier to trace,” Ms. Acres said.

The penny rugs weren’t actual floor rugs, but were used as decorative coverings for beds, tables, dressers and mantles, and sometimes as wall hangings and pillows.

Ms. Acres said she’s been involved with quilting and sewing since she learned to sew as a member of 4-H.

Mary Fonda, sitting next to Ms. Acres, was working on another piece. She and others meet every two weeks to work on their pieces.

“My friend got me started. It’s very therapeutic,” Ms. Fonda said.

Reg Schweitzer was also on hand Saturday to display one of his prides and joys — a 1952 Minneapolis-Moline tractor.

“My father bought it new in ’52. It’s been in the family since,” he said as he wiped the tractor down with a cloth. “Made in the USA, every part of it.”

Behind Mr. Schweitzer was a sea of tractors brought in by others who were just as proud of their machines. Many of them were from McCormick Farmall, while others were stamped with names like Wards Twin-Row, John Deere, Ford 861 Powermaster, Massey Harris and International.

Hugh Newton, a member and past president of the St. Lawrence County Maple Producers Association, was at the Maple Sugar House to talk about the process of turning tree sap into maple syrup. He said the Maple Sugar House, which was built by the St. Lawrence County Maple Producers Association, was the oldest building on the museum grounds.

“We were the first organization to build a building on the grounds. They wanted a sugar house,” he said.

Near the building was a tree with two buckets attached, ready to catch the sap as it began flowing. Mr. Newton said the rule of thumb is it takes 43 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup.

He said his family began maple syrup production in the 1940s, and he’s been doing it for about 20 years.

There were plenty of syrup products available for purchase, including maple hot dogs, maple candy, maple sugar, maple cream, maple walnuts and maple cotton candy.

Schoolhouse No. 12, which dates back to 1850 from the town of LeRay, was also open for visits, with “school marm” Judith C. Liscum on hand to provide information about education back in the early days. The building was dedicated in 2014 and is now a destination for field trips by local schools.

Also open for visits was a barn with several horse-drawn carriages and harnesses. Among the vehicles on display was a circa-1920 horse-drawn kerosene tanker, a two-seater carriage, a delivery van, a two-seater sleigh, a horse-drawn milk wagon and a “100 percent original” Jenny Lind Cutter Sleigh, dating back to circa 1850.

One building that’s still under construction is the Madill log cabin, which was originally located on state Highway 68. The Madill family had arrived in the Lisbon area from Monaghan, Ireland around 1812. The cabin is being rebuilt as close to its original circa 1850 condition as possible, although they’re dealing with issues like logs that are now 165 years old and showing substantial weathering.

Old Fashioned Harvest Days continue today with church in the tractor building from 7:30 to 8 a.m., sawmill and shingle mill operation from 10 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 2 p.m., fall harvesting behind the log cabin from 11 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m., an antique auto and truck exhibit from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., an antique tractor pull from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., a horse and tractor parade and barbecue chicken dinner at noon, and a kids’ pedal tractor pull from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Admission is $5 for people 12 and older, and children under 12 are admitted free. The St. Lawrence Power & Equipment Museum is at 1755 Route 345, Madrid.

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