Wisconsin Automotive Museum, Hartford WI #History
Over the summer, my hubby came home from work and asked if I had ever heard of a car museum in Hartford. Nope, never heard of it. They had been working close to it, so naturally he was interested when he saw it. He had no idea what was in it or any other details. He just knew we should look into it (meaning I should get the details) and make a visit some day.
He brought it up again this past week because work was slowing down. He figured we would have plenty of time to make an afternoon of it. I found their website, got their hours and started planning. It was going to take about 45 minutes to get there. I packed us a lunch and we hit the road.
When we arrived, we were impressed with the size of the building. We had no idea what was inside because we only glanced at the pictures on the website. As we headed in, we were greeted by very friendly staff where we paid our admission.
A volunteer met us to give us a brief introduction, then we would be on our way to look around at our leisure. Immediately, the boys saw the electric train set-up. It was going to be the first stop on our self guided tour. We watched as the many trains wound around the various tracks, through tunnels and over bridges. The boys could have stayed in that area all day if we let them.
The next stop was all the antique Kissel cars. Kissel? What’s Kissel? I asked the same question. I had never heard of such a car. Kissel was a high end custom built automobile manufactured right in Hartford, WI from 1906 until 1931. Of the 35,000 cars made, only 150 are known to still exist. Some of the cars are on loan by people who have restored them, while others have been donated to the museum.
The volunteer told us some great stories! Allegedly, Al Capone owned 2 Kissel cars and Kissel had made modifications to those cars for making moonshine runs. Other stories were of homes being available on the property for people to stay at while their cars were being custom built. If the people had enough money to afford these custom built vehicles, Kissel was more than happy to have them visit to see the process!
It was so neat seeing the cars and how they changed from year to year. There were signs in front of each one, giving a little history of that model. Like, how much it would cost brand new, the horse power, it’s top speed and other little interesting facts. One of them remains unrestored because it is used as a model for others that need restoring. It’s hard to imagine it being 100 years old and still runs soundly!
There were also displays of old spark plugs and oil cans, license plates, gas pumps, boat motors and other models of cars. The boys really got a kick out of seeing a Hudson! It looked just like Doc from the movie Cars! Then we saw a tow truck that looked like Mater(back when Mater would’ve had a nice paint job)!
After all this, we still had to make our way up to the 2nd floor! Upstairs we found old race cars, antique campers, more vintage cars…there was just so much to take in! Did I mention we saw a Delorean? No?! It was really cool to see the car that has time travel capabilities!(Yes, I know it was just a movie, but I’m a nerd and was imagining where the flux capacitor would’ve been had it been real.)
We had so much fun visiting the Wisconsin Automotive Museum! Having such amazing history, so close to home, is such a great thing to do on a day off. History is definitely more fun when you can immerse yourself in it!
What kind of fun history do you have near you?