Most of the trip was under dense cloud cover and threatening rain, so pictures weren't worth taking outside. The wind and unseasonable chill in the air in the mountains didn't lend itself well to scenic shots along the way. I'm fascinated by these roadside displays of travel memorabilia, so finding this one up in rural North Carolina behind a local used car lot, just as the sun poked through allowed for one of the few shots of the weekend. The second shot, of the old Mast General Store is another favorite stopping points when in the hills of NC.
The museum, nestled off the street in a huge 38,000 sq. ft. warehouse structure behind an attractive water sculpture out front is hard to see unless you're paying attention. Dale Walksler, the owner/founder of the museum is always eager to take a stroll through the facility. My bad luck had him out on an errand when I showed up. Chris Anthony - my guide for the day - made it real clear though, that any of the volunteer guides could keep you entertained for hours. Apparently 2-3 hours isn't unusual to take while strolling through the exhibits, and as long as you were still asking questions, they'd stay with ya the entire time.
As you first walk into the museum, you are immersed in several decades of automobiles, Vintage one-of-a kinds and rare celebrity owned vehicles, several obtained from Steve McQueen's collection. As you work your way back into the main gallery - you're faced with creative displays of old motorcycle shops, military bunkers, old garages, dirt track and board track racing scenes and endless valuable bikes.
Some of the stories are incredible. They place a high importance on finding out the history of each bike on display - who owned it - who built it - where did they find it. One bike was found bricked up behind a wall in Chicago, and many include documentation from previous owners.
Along the back wall are various farm machinery, boats and planes that used old motorcycle engines, makeshift apparatus that served a purpose for the owner, yet have as the central theme, the motorcycle engine.
There is also a large display of both dirt bike and board track historical bikes, some championship winning bikes and an old Evil Kneival bike as well.
We went up to the second story where more race bikes were being displayed and Chris then took me back to the shop, where some restorations are taking place. Everything focused on the rare bikes and many in their original conditions. This place will leave your jaw sore from hanging open for hours.
Finally bumping into Dale on my way out, I find out that his collection included a 1917 Henderson that was used in 1997 to break the 80 year old Transcontinental record, and a 1936 Harley that nearly won the 1995 Great American Race, losing by a one-second margin. When asked which is his favorite motorcycle, his reply: "The one I rode last".
It may cost ya a few bucks to get in, but it is indeed a great way to spend an afternoon while in the mountains of NC. I recommend it highly!
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