NW amble: high style in the Gorge

At Hood River's little-known Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum, three and a half acres of classic cars, trucks, and planes shine

Essay and Photographs by K.B. Dixon

The Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum (which has branded itself with the stuttering acronym WAAAM) sits right next door to the Hood River Airport. It is one of the Columbia Gorge’s newer treasures. Housed in a hangar complex behind a distinctly unpretentious facade, the museum has one of the largest collections of antique aeroplanes and cars in the country. Most have been beautifully restored. Most are in working order.

Founded in 2006 by Terry Brandt as a home for his personal collection of cars and planes (a collection that took more than 50 years to build), the museum opened to the public in 2007. It continues to grow gathering additional exhibits for preservation and display from other collectors.

WAAM from the outside: hidden gem in Hood River.

The museum—which also contains work and event spaces—is huge. It covers more than 3.5 acres. It is packed with mechanical wonders. In addition to the hundreds of antique cars and planes, you will find tractors, gliders, motorcycles, military vehicles, memorabilia, and more. It is managed by its preternaturally affable staff and its director, Judy Newman, with an informal, small-town friendliness that seems itself from another era. The primary focus everywhere is on functional machinery. As the various volunteers responsible for the day-to-day operation of the place are inordinately fond of saying, “The items on display…are not only full of history, they’re full of LIFE!” (Caps and exclamation point obligatory.)

Classic on the road and in the sky.

Ready for takeoff: biplane beauty.

Fusions of power and style.

1929 Packard, traveling in style.

 

1915 Trumbull Model 15-B Roadster.

Whitewalls, louvers and spokes.

Trucks and a wagon join the mix.

Tough trucks for the lumber trade.

Giving props where props are due.

                Machines at work: 1910 steam tractor.

Beauty is beauty. A bike pulls in.

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The Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum is at 1600 Air Museum Road, Hood River, next to the Hood River Airport. Visitor information here.

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Portland writer and photographer K.B. Dixon’s newest book – Too True: Essays on Photography, from Inkwater Press – is available online here. A “collection of idiosyncratic essays on the subject of photography,” it provides “a distinctly personal take on the many mysteries of a maddening medium.”

About the author

K.B. Dixon’s work has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and journals. The recipient of an OAC Individual Artist Fellowship Award, he is the winner of both the Next Generation Indie Book Award and the Eric Hoffer Book Award. He is the author of seven novels: The Sum of His SyndromesAndrew (A to Z)A Painter’s LifeThe Ingram InterviewThe Photo AlbumNovel Ideas, and Notes as well as the essay collection Too True, Essays on Photography, and the short story collection, My Desk and I. Examples of his photographic work may be found in private collections, juried exhibitions, online galleries, and at K.B. Dixon Images.

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