On Tuesday, I set forth in search of adventure. My first stop was this small museum in an old airplane hangar on a small airport in rural Boone County. I was the only visitor.
The museum is lodged in a hangar, built in 1937 by the Works Progress Administration for the Waukesha County Airport in Wisconsin.
I was greeted at the door by three dogs. I could see a woman in a back room, so I called “Hello,” and she came out to greet me and take my money. She busied herself most of the time I was there, but periodically came out to give me a guided tour of some exhibit or other.
The museum is rather odd. It was ostensibly about the impact that automobiles and airplanes had on life in America, but this made for a very eclectic collection. There were three cars and three planes, and an exhibit on Boone County and another on the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop and another on Smokey the Bear and another on Henry Ford’s attempt to grow rubber in South America and another on Captain Elray Jeppesen who developed the first navigational charts for pilots. All of it was well done and interesting — just a bit oddly mixed together.
1928 Ford Model A Roadster
1931 American Eaglet — built during the Depression to be inexpensive ($1,395). It could carry two (small) people and fly 280 miles on a tank of gas. The car in the background is a 1940 Ford Deluxe.
A 1931 Corben Baby Ace. It cost $995 when new.
A 1924 Chevrolet truck with a box built from a piano crate. It was the first vehicle sold by a Belvidere car dealership that went out of business in 2013.
A 1941 Culver Cadet that cost $2,395 and could fly 500 miles on a tankful of gas.
There were all sorts of small displays scattered about, including one of models of early aircraft.
Jeppesen chart book. The company is still in the same business today. It was started by Elrey Jeppesen, a mail pilot who got tired of navigating by following rivers and the dangers of avoiding power lines
A statue of Jeppesen stands in front of the hangar.
The museum has several acres on the airport property and doesn’t just collect small artifacts. It also collects buildings and bridges and so forth.
A “T” hangar from Hamilton Airport in Milwaukee, built in the mid-1920s. The shape accommodated an airplane that was backed into the space.
An early airport beacon light stands in front of a 1938 hangar from Commercial Airport in Springfield, Illinois.
A Sunoco gas station, built in 1924 in Dayton, Ohio.
Slim’s Garage, built in the 1920s in Green Lake, Wisconsin.
It’s set up inside like a working garage and — I found this amazing — I was able to wander around at will all by myself. This by itself made the visit worth my while.
The car is a 1936 Pontiac Silver Streak Sedan.