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Hesston Steam Museum

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Before the Opening, volunteers gather to get the Shay locomotive engine ready – lots of gears need greased. Photo by Sue Baxter

     Hesston Steam Museum is an outdoor museum operated by the Laporte County Historical Steam Society in Hesston, Indiana. The Hesston Steam Museum is open several Holiday Weekends as well as every weekend in the Summer. Special Weekends Include: Civil War Days in June, Father’s Day, July 4th and Labor Day Weekend (with Steam Show).

FALL / Winter WEEKENDS: Halloween Weekends (Ghost Trains Oct 13-14, 20-21 and Oct. 16, 27, and 28th, 2021), and select Christmas Weekends (Santa On the Train),  

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Rare Look inside the Engineers cabin of the Shay Locomotive, photo by Sue Baxter

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Sawmill in operation, Memorial Day Weekend and other select weekends photo by Sue Baxter

     In the past, Traction engines were the main feature and provided most of the power. The steam powered sawmill was added in 1959, the steam powered electric plant was added in 1961, and the Browning crane was added in 1962.
     Local Threshermen volunteers purchased a steam locomotive in 1964 from Elliott Donnelley of Lake Forest, IL, who took an interest in the accomplishments at Hesston. With his generous financial assistance, during 1965-1968, the remainder of the 155 acre site was purchased and a unique dual gauge (24″/36″) railroad was constructed. The La Porte County Historical Steam Society, Inc. was chartered as a not-for-profit organization on December 16, 1968 in La Porte County. In 1969, the IRS granted recognition as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.
     The SHAY locomotive restoration was completed and dedicated August 30, 1975. The full size railroad is of very rare narrow gauge equipment from many counties which was used to haul freight and/or passengers for commerce. The largest locomotive is a Shay type that hauled logs out of the mountains in the West. The medium sized Vintage Kiddieland railroad provided entertainment as part of small amusement parks from the 1920s through the 1970s.

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The newly restored Jason Powers Porter Engine, 2019

   The Opening Launch of the Restored  Jason Powers Porter, (Shown HERE) commonly referred to as the “Porter,” which was launched Labor Day weekend in 2019. Restorations were helped by Mr Rita Sr. who was a talented mechanical engineer and helped adapt a new stock turret casting for the boiler system. Last time is was operating was in 1985. 
     Hesston Sawmill: Take an entire tree and cut it into lumber? Huge logs are loaded up and a 60 inch saw blade will amaze you with the speed in which it cuts. Children will have a better understanding of where lumber comes from so they will appreciate wood as a resource, not just a material. This steam powered sawmill is very typical of local mills that were found in our area and surrounding towns and villages across the county. This only Operates on select weekends.
   Threshing Machine – Operation is in full swing at the Labor Day Weekend Steam & Power Show when the threshing machine is used to process grains for the fall harvest.
     Open 3 Days on Memorial Day Weekend and 4 Days on Labor Day  weekend (Aug 31 – Sept 3rd) including steam train rides on 3 railroads, railroad speeder rides, sawmill, flea market, cranes, antique farm machinery, antique cars, steam traction engines, great festival food, vintage ice cream soda fountain and much more. 10am-5pm. Old-time farm machinery, antique cars, and other machines, flea market, and more. New this year is the Glacier Pass Exhibit on the train ride.

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Volunteers getting the wood ready (shown here in the Wood pile) that needs to be loaded on the train to get it ready for operations.

TIPS FOR YOUR VISIT: While the activities start at 10:00, you can arrive early to avoid standing in line at the gate.
You can purchase admission and train tickets at the gate, (be prepared to wait on Holiday weekends)

  • Download Event Map (also handed out at the gate on your arrival) to plan your visit in advance.
  • Bring some cash for outdoor festival food vendors, flea market and for the new Family Activity Area

     Steam Train Rides on 3 railroads (including our 1929 logging locomotive). Admission Fee: (Holiday weekends only) Admission $5 adults; free 13 & under;
     Train Fares: $5 adults; $3 children 3-12; free under 3. Information: 219-778-2783 or www.hesston.org.

Fox Park Music Fest laporte indiana guardians 1Discover LaPorte Indiana –
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Spring Garden Show
LaPorte County Fair
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Brown Bag Gardening Series
Barn Shop Hops
LaPorte Symphony Concerts
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Sue Baxter