Days spent working on, or with, computers seldom have a tangible product to show for it.  But it wasn’t that long ago when our economy and way of life involved agriculture and long, grueling hours outdoors.

The 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture reports that Washington State is home to more than 37,000 farms and an agriculture industry which provides for 12% of the state’s economy.  Washington is #1 in U.S. production of such treats as red raspberries, hops, pears, apples, carrots, peas, and sweet cherries.

king agriculture museum
The King Agriculture Museum is the largest antique tractor museum between Seattle and Portland and resides in the 1916 Lewis County Lumber building. Photo courtesy: King Agriculture Museum.

Successful cultivation of such items comes thanks to many technological innovations on the farm.  In 1850 it took between 75-90 labor hours to produce 100 bushels of corn.  By 1890, improvements had reduced that time to 35-40 hours.  Fast forward to the 1940s and the time was down to 10-14 hours.  The USDA’s statistics show that by 1987, the time was less than 3 hours – all thanks to tractors, plows, planters, combines, and trucks.

In Centralia, Dave King opened the King Agriculture Museum to honor and celebrate our region’s hard-working heritage.  Located at 213 East Maple Street in the Lewis County Lumber building, he describes the museum as a draw to “anyone that has any interest in rare tractors or ones they grew up with. You will relive memories visiting this museum. We house over 70 full size tractors plus garden tractors, pedal tractors, logging equipment, antique hand tools and hand crank tools, hand built toys, all American toy trucks, and to-scale farm toys.”

He continues, “The people that have visited our museum thus far are surprised at the variety we have and also thank us for spawning past memories they long forgot.  We continue to grow and expand our displays.  I have a barn full of antiques that I am making a place for.  We also have several hands-on displays for adults and children to enjoy and learn from.”

Visitors can explore an online gallery prior to their trip.  The Museum is open May through October 1 from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Tuesday thru Saturday or by appointment.  There are multiple areas of this largest antique tractor museum between Seattle and Portland to explore, as well as an on-site gift shop.

king agriculture museum
Founder Dave King shows off his Coca Cola-themed self propelled Shriner’s mini car. Photo courtesy: King Agriculture Museum.

“Our future looks good, more and more people are hearing about us and visiting the museum.  Aunnitta and I personally spend time with everyone that visits who shows an interest or has questions,” says King.

King also participates in events across the county throughout the year.  Look for tractors at the Windermere Centralia 4th of July parade, Toledo Cheese Days, Lewis County Historical Museum’s pie social, Napavine Funtime FestivalPuget Sound Antique Tractor Show in LyndenSouthwest Washington Fair, Toledo Threshing Bee, Onalaska Apple Blossom Festival, Chehalis Santa Parade, and the Centralia Downtown Association Lighted Tractor Parade.

New to the Museum is a nautical area dedicated to parts from the 80-year-old Kalakala Ferry from Seattle.  King even secured one of the boat’s watertight doors for visitors to pass through when touring.

Admittance to the King Agriculture Museum is $5 for adults, $4 for veterans, and $3 for children 7-12; 6 and under are free.  Follow the King Agriculture Museum on Facebook to track their participation in festivals, fairs, and parades.

king agriculture museum
King loves to participate in community events like the Toledo Cheese Days celebration. Photo courtesy: King Agriculture Museum.

King gladly accepts donations of antique farm equipment of all kinds as well as monetary donations for upkeep and future purchases.  If you have materials to donate or questions about the Museum, renting space for events or visiting with a large group, call Dave King at 360-736-2717 or via his cell at 360-701-7525.

Thomas Jefferson once said that “agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.”  Let Dave King and his historical legacy remind you of those simpler, hard-working days. Come visit, share some experience and enjoy his museum.


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