California Agriculture Museum is a tractor-lover’s dream
Visitors to the California Agriculture Museum in Woodland immerse themselves in the state’s rich ag history, and leave with a new appreciation for the food on their plate.
The California Agriculture Museum is home to the Heidrick Tractor Collection, started in 1930 by farm machinery inventor and restorer Fred Heidrick Sr. of Woodland (1913-2001). A family foundation opened the Heidrick Ag History Museum in 1997. In 2008, it became a nonprofit that relies on admission, events and donations. Though it was renamed the California Agriculture Museum in 2015, it receives no public funds.
“The history of the museum is very interesting,” Executive Director Nicole Schaefer said. “Everything (here) is something that (Fred Heidrick) personally collected. He went all over the country collecting these pieces.”
And those pieces are all restored and in working condition. Locals see them in parades and other displays. The collection includes more than 100 antique tractors, and hundreds of other artifacts. To view a full list, visit https://www.californiaagmuseum.org/heidrick-antique-tractor-collection
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays at 1958 Hays Road in Woodland. Admission ranges from $5 to $10 (see sidebar), and is free on Memorial Day weekend, and Mother’s and Father’s Day weekends. Complimentary docent-led tours are available most days. Visitors may also do their own self-guided tour.
The interactive museum has several hands-on opportunities, where visitors can climb on tractors, ride a toy one, and play games like corn hole. There’s even a scavenger hunt. Specialty areas include a blacksmith shop, a look at early barns and livestock, and more.
The 45,000-square-foot museum is part of more than 100,000 square feet of event rental space. The banquet hall and outdoor courtyard each seat 325 people. The grounds are a perfect place for a family picnic. The museum plans a fundraising Tractor & Brews event on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. Watch its website for additional details.
If you go
What: California Agriculture Museum, home of the Heidrick Tractor Collection and Event Center
Where: 1958 Hays Road in Woodland, off Interstate 5
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. The last admission entry is 3:30 p.m.
Admission: $10 general; $9 for AAA members with card; $8 veterans, first responders, students with ID and seniors 65+; $5 for children 6-12; and free for those 5 and under. Free admission is offered on Memorial Day weekend, and Mother’s and Father’s Day weekends.
Things to do
1. Get a guided tour
Learn the stories behind each piece of equipment with a free docent-led tour (in English or Spanish), or do your own self-guided tour, reading the informational cards. For groups, the museum recommends booking 10 days ahead. Call (530) 666-9700 or email email@example.com.
2. Climb on a tractor
The kids’ area allows those of all ages to climb on a tractor, play corn hole and more. Littles love driving the pedal tractors and learning what it’s like to grow up on a farm. Other specialty areas include a blacksmith shop, a look at early barns and livestock and more.
3. Go on a scavenger hunt
Ask the front desk for a form.
4. Have a picnic
Bring a quilt and food, and enjoy lunch on the lawn.
5. Shop the gift store
It features books, toys, postcards, hats, cups, glassware and decor.
100+ antique tractors are onsite – all in running condition – as well as hundreds of California agricultural artifacts.
The most popular attraction in the museum is the giant 1906 Best 110 H.P. Steam Tractor. It’s 17 feet tall, 28 feet long, and weighs 34,000 pounds. It runs on crude oil, and travels about 2.5 miles per hour. (Present-day tractors go about 40 mph.)
The oldest piece in the collection is an 1891 Little Giant Grain Separator. This thresher is powered by two horses that walk on an angled treadmill.
Horsepower is an energy term. One horsepower is the amount of energy required to lift 33,000 pounds up one foot, in one minute.