Monday, November 16, 2009

Wreath Auction

The Museum has a number of beautiful, handcrafted, one-of-a-kind wreaths designed and created by a veritable who's who of St. Louis florists and floral designers currently on exhibit in the Earl C. Lindburg Automobile Center. A silent auction is underway for the wreaths; interested parties may either submit a silent bid for the wreaths or elect to purchase them now for a set price, which is substantially lower than the price the florists and designers would normally charge. The wreaths have been donated by the florists, designers, and friends of the Museum, and proceeds from the auction will go to fund an exhibit exploring transportation in the Civil War.

The silent auction ends November 30, but stop in and purchase a wreath and enjoy it now!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Wind and Rain

Perhaps the MOT staff should consider taking up weather forecasting...

While we hadn't really planned for October to be cold and rainy, the October installation of both a rain garden next to the lake and a windmill-actuated aerator in the lake proved timely given the weather over the last month. The rain garden was installed by St. Louis County Department of Parks and Recreation horticultural staff and volunteers using grant funding from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and will utilize runoff from the parking lot for hydration.

While we want plants next to the lake, we don't really want them in the lake. An ongoing algae and plant issue will hopefully be at least partly addressed with the installation of an aerator run solely on wind power.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pistons and Pumpers

The Pistons and Pumpers antique truck and fire truck show, held October 10th, was a great success. The foggy, chilly morning turned into a crisp, bright fall day, and the Gateway Fire Historical Society and Gateway Chapter of the Antique Truck Historical Society brought some outstanding vehicles - 34 all told - for visitors to enjoy. Attendance for the day was the second-highest of all our automotive events, and we're grateful to both clubs for their support and look forward to hosting them again next year.

Again, photos by Ron Anderson.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Brass and Nickel Show

The Horseless Carriage Club of Missouri hosted yet another fantastic Brass & Nickel Car Show on October 4th featuring cars from the brass and nickel radiator era up to 1931. Thanks again to Ron Anderson for the great photographs.

Owney's Paw-ty

When a mixed-breed dog with terrier tendencies wandered into the Albany, NY, post office in 1888 and fell asleep on the mail bags, a touching and unique story in American railroading heritage began. The dog followed the bags onto a railway post office (RPO) car and began traveling with the mail first across New York State and then across the country. Named Owney, the dog became a favorite of railroad employees, who took note of the fact that trains on which Owney rode were never involved in accidents - a relative rarity in those days.

Owney is the Museum of Transportation's mascot and paid a visit to Museum guests this fall for a paw-ty on October 3rd. More information about Owney can be found at the National Postal Museum's website.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oldsmobile Fun Show

This past Sunday brought us 66 Oldsmobiles, sunny skies, and 83 degrees. Thanks again to Ron Anderson for the photographs.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Out with the old, in with the...old

It's gallery-changing time. To prepare for our upcoming Pistons and Pumpers exhibit in the Earl C. Lindburg Automobile Center, we've removed nearly every vehicle in the building except the Darin and Turbine cars, the Cadillac in the Coral Court exhibit, and a few of the trucks. And beginning last week, new vehicles (well, not "new" - all so far are nearly fifty years old or older) began to trickle into the building.

The rotation of exhibits and artifacts is vital, but it can also be a lengthy process when each vehicle is transported individually to or from our off-site storage facility, which is a fifteen-minute drive from the Museum on a good day. And few of our vehicles are maintained in operating condition, so we rely heavily upon trucks, trailers, wheel dollies, winches, and old-fashioned muscle.

Thanks again to Ron Anderson for the photographs.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

All-Chevy Show

One of the largest- and perhaps the largest - single-make car shows ever at the Museum of Transportation was the All-Chevy Show hosted by the Fabulous Fifties Chevy Club on September 13th. With 148 cars, the show was a great success, and we were thrilled to host such a vast and varied gathering of Chevrolets. Thanks again to Ron Anderson for the photographs.

Don't forget our next show...the Oldsmobile Fun Show this Sunday, September 27th.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sitting below an excavator...

As I write this, a very large Caterpillar track hoe is working away, some thirty feet above my head. It's not directly above my head; it's actually just behind the Museum's administration office, pulling fill from the hillside behind us to use as additional surcharge for the visitors' center site. While the sound of it hitting rock can be a little unsettling, any minor apprehension is more than offset by the fact this excavation will move the project of extending the streetcar line from the tunnel to the back of the Earl C. Lindburg Automobile Center forward.

Don't forget to mark your calendars for the Oldsmobile Fun Show this Sunday, September 27th. As with all car shows at the Museum, admission to the show itself is free! Regular Museum admission applies to the remainder of the Museum grounds.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Did you know volunteers contribute over 32,000 hours annually at the Museum - or the equivalent of 15 full-time employees? Our volunteers work in fields as diverse as visitor services, restoration, archives, offering tours, and streetcar operations. They also serve in a number of advisory capacities and as ambassadors for the Museum.

Our volunteers in action, photographed by volunteer photographer Ron Anderson...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Volunteers in the restoration program are rebuilding a handcar that has deteriorated over the years and suffered fairly extensive rotting of the wood decking and supports.

It wouldn't be a blog posting without an updated photograph of the visitors' center site work. The excavated location of the building pad has been largely filled with clean material, and pressure plates have been installed to measure the rate of compaction over the upcoming months.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Visitors' Center - Thursday Afternoon

Pistons and Pumpers

We're getting ready for the Pistons and Pumpers Antique Truck and Fire Truck Show on Saturday, October 10th, in our lower level parking lot. It will be a fantastic show, hosted by the Gateway Fire Historical Society and the local region of the Antique Truck Historical Society, and will feature antique fire pumpers pumping for our lake. We will be hosting a special exhibit in our Earl C. Lindburg Automobile Center featuring fire trucks and antique trucks.

Earlier today, we brought the 1977 Seagrave hook and ladder truck on loan to the Museum from the City of St. Louis Fire Department. After several years in storage, we put a new battery in it, and it fired up immediately. Listen to it purr and watch the lights run in this video.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Car Shows

Make sure you include our remaining 2009 car shows on your calendar - they're great events, wonderful opportunities to visit with owners about their fantastic vehicles, and on top of that, admission to the car shows is free! (Regular Museum admission applies to the remainder of the Museum)

  • All-Chevy Show: September 13th
  • Oldsmobile Fun Show: September 27th
  • Brass & Nickel Show: October 4th
  • Pistons and Pumpers Truck and Fire Truck Show: October 10th
For more information, visit our website at Museum of Transportation

Monday, August 31, 2009

Laying Carpet and Digging Holes

Excavation for the new visitors' center has become part of the daily routine here at the Museum, but it is no less entertaining and engrossing to watch. We have therefore cleared two areas along the fenceline separating the upper and lower levels to facilitate construction watching, and we're enjoying watching our visitors picnic in the grass at the observation areas as much as they're enjoying watching the excavators, crawlers, and dump trucks.

The carpet for the Missouri Pacific observation car #750 is being dry-laid and cut by the installer. The process is laborious and time-consuming; the large run is cut not only along the sides but also up to and around the base for each parlor chair. The carpet will then be removed, and the seams will be bound with carpet binding. Brass grommets will then be installed just as those in the period carpet that was removed (due to irreparable damage and deterioration); the grommets allowed the railroad to quickly change carpets and to install and stretch carpet without gluing it down.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Movie Star in Our Parking Lot

The 1960 Peterbilt tractor parked at the northeast corner of our parking lot may not look like a celebrity; its faded primer-colored body, dingy chrome, and painted steel wheels inspired a helpful local police officer to call us, offering to track down its owner to have the abandoned truck retrieved.

Imagine his surprise when I thanked him for his generosity but assured him the truck was actually a movie star - one that appeared in Steven Spielberg's first production-length Hollywood film.

In Spielberg's 1971 classic Duel, businessman David Mann (played by Dennis Weaver) sets off on a driving trip across the desert to meet a client when he comes upon a slow-moving old tanker truck. What initially begins as Mann's attempt to simply pass the truck and move on to his appointment escalates into a day of terror as the seemingly driverless truck pursues and tries to kill Mann.

The tension-filled cult classic featured three near look-alike Peterbilts in the main role; this Peterbilt was considered truck #2 and also later played a role in a David Lee Roth video.

The Duel Peterbilt is currently on loan to the Museum from its owner, who also owns the "Rubber Duck" from the classic trucker movie Convoy. "Rubber Duck" is also currently at the Museum of Transportation.

For more information on the Duel truck, visit

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Amazing how quickly site work can progress in two short today's photos to those from Tuesday. The foundation "pit" is now being filled with rock to compress the moisture out of the soil below. When the "pit" is filled to roughly the finished grade level, an amount of surplus equal in weight to the building itself will be placed on top to speed compaction, which will be measured by pressure plates buried at the base of the pit. Some have asked if the building will have a basement due to the excavation below grade; while the building will be on a slab rather than a basement foundation, the soil conditions necessitated compaction.