Pennsylvania museum celebrates turnpike’s 75th anniversary

Credit: Original article published by Classic Cars Journal.

As early as 1910, there were suggestions to convert an abandoned rail route into a motorway that would allow motorcars to travel across the state of Pennsylvania. But it wasn’t until 1940 that “America’s First Superhighway,” the Pennsylvania Turnpike, was completed and accepted traffic.

That first section of the tollroad to open spanned 160 miles from Carlisle to Irwin. Using it, the 7-hour drive from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh was reduced from 7 hours to 3½. 

It wasn’t until the 1950s that the turnpike was completed all the way from Ohio to New Jersey.  Highlights of the turnpike trip included a series of tunnels and the availability of toll plazas with fuel and food services.

“An unbroken ribbon of concrete cutting through mountains and across valleys, bypassing towns,” the turnpike website notes. “No stop signs, no intersections, no speed limits.” Well, perhaps in the beginning.

Tunnels helped to slash driving time across the state
Turnpike provided a series of scenic vistas for drivers and passengers

“The Pennsylvania Turnpike was the first of its kind and received nationwide acclaim as an engineering marvel. It was touted as America’s First Superhighway when it opened on October 1, 1940, and was the national standard for superhighway design and engineering.

“Today, the PA Turnpike stretches more than 550 miles — triple its original length. It continues its legacy of innovation in the ground-transportation industry and embraces modern-day technologies for faster response times, increased traffic flow and safer trips for drivers.”

The now 80-year history of the turnpike is shared in an exhibit at the State Museum of Pennsylvania History in Harrisburg, as well as on the turnpike’s website. The museum display opened 5 years ago as part of the road’s 75th anniversary, and featured an original and now reassembled toll booth.

Reassembled toll booth is part of the museum display | Museum photos

California museums re-open

The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento re-opened October 8. The museum will be open on a Thursday-through-Sunday basis, but with Thursday admission reserved for museum members.

Also re-opened is the California Ag Museum, in Woodland, California,on a Wednesday-through-Sunday schedule. 

Indy refreshes its ‘Vault’ display

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum has refreshed its “From the Vault” exhibition, rotating vehicles that have been displayed back to storage and bringing up a new set for visitors to see. 

Disco era featured at Studebaker museum

No vaccine needed: Disco fever infects Studebaker museum | Museum photo

“Disco Decade Rides: Cars of the 1970s” is the title of a new exhibit at the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana.

“Automakers faced numerous challenges including a fuel embargo, safety and emissions regulations, resulting in a decade of industry-wide change and adaptation,” the museum said in opening the exhibit.

“The traditional large American automobile became an endangered species as consumer tastes favored smaller, fuel-efficient cars and increased overseas competition further challenged the industry. Disco Decade Rides: Cars of the 1970s highlights some of the decade’s iconic automobiles and the stories behind them. 

‘Ride It Out’ auction at Owls Head

“Ride It Out: Special Interest Car & Collectibles” is the title of an auction being staged by the Owls Head Transportation Museum in Maine. Proceeds will support museum operations. Bidding, through the Proxibid website, begins Monday. 

The docket includes not only around a dozen vehicles, including a 1951 MG TD and a 1985 Alfa Romeo “Graduate,” but two Toro tractors and several Ford Model A engines.

Items can be inspected at the museum on October 11-12 and 18-19 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

NASCAR Hall delays induction ceremony

The NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, is postponing its induction week events for the Class of 2021. The induction ceremony was to have taken place February 5, 2021, to honor Red Farmer, Mike Stefanik, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Ralph Seagraves. 

No new date was revealed, but is expected to be announced during the summer of 2021.

Book a 2021 event at the Corvette track

The National Corvette Museum’s Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is booking events for dates in 2021. Events that can be staged at the track include corporate team building; birthday, bachelor and holiday parties, car-club car shows; and the track also can be booked for automotive testing or filming. 

To request a pricing quote, visit the track’s website.

In the meantime, the tracks hosts a Corvette driving experience event on October 16, the Optima Ultimate street car challenge on October 10-11, Midwest motorcycle track days on October 17-18 (featuring an annual chili cook-off), and NASA Great Lakes test days on October 22-25.

‘Diversity’ exhibit opens at Mercedes museum

A traveling exhibition, “We Are Part of Culture,” opened October 9 at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Germany and can be seen there until November 1. The exhibit includes portraits of more than 30 LGBT personalities from culture, literature, politics, science, music and motorsports. 

Special events this weekend

The Seal Cove Auto Museum in Maine will stage its final Cars and Coffee event of 2020 on October 10. The museum closes for the season on October 31.

In response to the success of the food truck event in September, the Newport Car Museum in Rhode Island hosts a food trucks, craft beer and live music event from 11:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. on October 10.

Although “Fall Hershey” has been smacked by the coronavirus pandemic, the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, will stage a socially distanced, one-day car show on October 10. 

To support the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, Carmel Artomobilia will stage the Pumpkin 10,000 Road Rally on October 10, setting a 90-minute driving route ending at Daniel’s Vineyard in McCordsville, Indiana, with registration fees supporting the museum.

The Mustang Owners Museum in Concord, North Carolina, will be the site of a “Fall Ford Garage Sale” starting at 10 a.m. on October 10.

Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, California, hosts actor Tony Dow (of Leave It to Beaver fame) and automotive celebrity Fireball Tim from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on October 10 with their Official Tony Dow Coloring Book.

Mark your calendar

The British Motor Museum at Gaydon stages its first (and free) “Gaydon Gathering” car show of the season on October 13. 

The Newport Car Museum in Rhode Island stages a “hoods-up” weekend October 17-18 with the engines exposed on more than 75 vehicles.

On October 17, the Mustang Owners Museum in Concord, North Carolina, stages “Mustang Hold’em and National Bullitt Day” with a “poker run” rally with Ford or Mustang-related stops along the route.

The Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, hosts a cars & coffee event from 7 a.m. until 9 a.m. on October 17. Because of a 50-car limit, vehicle owners must pre-register through the museum’s website.

Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, California, hosts author Matt Stone and his latest book, Bullitt: The Cars and The People Behind Steve McQueen, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on October 17.

The scene at Muscles & Mojo | Museum photos

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, plans special “Spooky Halloween” events for children on October 24, 25 and 31. For details, visit the museum website.

The British Motor Museum at Gaydon plans a “Rocket-Fueled Half-Term” packed with activities for young visitors from October 24 through November 1. Visit the museum website for details.

The British National Motor Museum at Beaulieu offers a special exhibition, “Motoring in Miniature — the Toys of Your Childhood,” during England’s “Half-Term” school recess period October 24 to November 1. 

The Murphy Auto Museum in Oxnard, California, hosts its 1st Sunday cars and coffee car show — Muscles & Mojo — on November 1. The event runs from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.

The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, hosts its annual “Vets ’n Vettes” event November 12-14.

The Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee opens a new exhibit, “Off-Road Harley-Davidson” on November 21.

“In the decades before America paved its highways, early riders had to be prepared for all sorts of terrain: sand, clay or dirt – and wandering those makeshift byways were Harley-Davidson motorcycles,” the museum notes. “Today, it’s called off-road or adventure touring; back then it was just called riding. 

“Since 1903, Harley-Davidson motorcycles proved their toughness by riding over wooded hills, through stone-choked creek beds and up mountain sides. ‘Off-road Harley-Davidson’ tells the history of motorcycles designed for rough roads, the people who rode them and the adventures they shared.”

Does your local car museum have special events or exhibitions planned? Let us know. Email larrye@classiccars.com

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