Va. collection highlights sawmill, farm equipment
NASSAWADOX, Va. — The Peninsula Tractor Organization is a non-profit organization that includes collectors of antique farm tractors and machinery.
It operates the Peninsula Tractor Organization Farm Museum, which includes the Nassawadox Sawmill.
“We have about 90 members right now,” said Richard Dryden, organization president. “Prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic, we had about 120 members.
“The Nassawadox Sawmill is the site of the organization’s ongoing efforts to help preserve and celebrate the rich agricultural heritage of the area,” Dryden continued. “The restoration of this sawmill is one of the key projects of the organization.”
Dryden said the sawmill was originally owned by the Northampton Lumber Company.
“Wood for the mill came from land that the company owned in the region as well as from farms in the Delmarva,” Dryden said. “A variety of products were manufactured here, including wood shingles, barrels and many types of lumber. The mill ceased operations in 1957. After its closing, much of the equipment was sold off. The Town of Nassawadox owns the property and leases it to us for $1 annually.”
Many of the wooden barrels produced at the Nassawadox Sawmill, according to a nomination form made to the National Register of Historical Places, were used by area potato farmers to transport their crops throughout the United States and beyond.
Much of the old sawmill is still intact with “a 100 HP stationary steam engine and circular sawmill which is being restored,” according to a news statement from the organization. “In addition to the sawmill, a farm museum is being established in the same building to preserve the rich farming history that was an important part of this area and help educate others about farming in days gone by.”
Dryden indicated that “there are some parts for the sawmill that we’re still looking for. We’d welcome assistance from people who would like to help with this project.
“We try to have a work day each month,” he continued. “Most members cannot always attend because many of our members are farmers and are in their fields either planting or harvesting their crops.”
In previous years, the museum has also included several corn and soybean demonstration plots at this site, but the COVID-19 Pandemic impacted the operations of the organization. Dryden added crop damage from deer also had an impact on the plots.
One of the major activities of the Peninsula Tractor Organization includes participation in area parades and celebrations throughout the Delmarva.
“We just finished up with the O’Nancock Saint Patrick’s Parade & Festival in Accomack County,” said Dryden. “On the Fourth of July, we’ll be in Cape Charles in Northampton County. We’re looking forward to the Blessing of the Combines this summer in Snow Hill in Worcester County.”
Dryden said the organization also welcomes school groups to the museum.
“It’s educational for the students. Most of the local children don’t grow up on farms anymore so this is something new for many of the kids,” he said. “The younger folks need to know where a 2 by 4 comes from.”
Once the mill is fully refurbished, the organization plans to hold a show at the site.
“We’ll likely start out with a one-day event each year,” Dryden said. “Then, if things go well, we’ll expand to a weekend event.”
The Peninsula Tractor Organization Farm Museum is located at 10150 Mill Street in Nassawadox in Northampton County. It is open to visitors by appointment. For more information, visit the organization’s website at https://peninsulatractor.org.