Take a step back from the high-tech world to appreciate the engineering marvels of the past — wooden airplanes, hand-cranked automobiles and steam powered engines. A tour of Oregon’s aviation and rail museums might turn you into a 19th- and 20th-century transportation buff.

Hood River’s WAAAM (Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum) has one of the nation’s largest collections of operational antique aeroplanes and automobiles. Beautifully restored cars from 1899 to the 1960s are on display with historic propeller drive planes. Check out special events on second Saturdays.

Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum’s collection includes planes from the Wright Brothers through the WWII-era Spruce Goose and a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird designed for speeds over 2,000 miles per hour. The McMinnville-based museum includes a waterpark and movie theater — a great option for the kids.

More than 30 restored warplanes can be seen at the Tillamook Air Museum. Some of the more popular include the P-38 Lightning, F4U-Corsair, P51-Mustang, PBY Catalina and SBD Dauntless divebomber. All are housed in a former WWII blimp hanger — the world’s largest wooden structure.

Eugene’s Oregon Air and Space Museum stages various aircraft and artifacts depicting the history of aviation and space technology. The collection includes aircraft, flight suits, engines and models.

Visit the Oregon Electric Railway Museum in the town of Brooks north of Salem to see the largest collection of trolley trains in the Pacific Northwest. The volunteer-run museum has a mile of track, a car barn, powerhouse and small depot, along with numerous vintage trolleys from the late 19th through the mid-20th century.

You can check out the steam locomotives of the Oregon Rail Heritage Center on Portland’s eastside Thursday through Sunday, and take a ride on the Holiday Express on weekends this December.

About the Author: Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin is the editor of Travel Oregon’s Seasonal Features, enewsletters and annual visitor guide. When she’s not cooking up trip ideas, Oregon Dreamer profiles and outdoor adventures to write about, she’s out exploring Oregon.

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These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

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  1. Allison George says…

    Fun story Eileen, thank you! Readers would also enjoy the Classic Aircraft Aviation Museum in Hillsboro, OR. It’s a totally under-discovered gem. It’s a working museum- they still fly their historic planes! It’s a great hands-on museum experience that you can’t get anywhere else. Thanks again.

    Written on November 8th, 2012 / Flag this Comment

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