Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

Trains, P/l/a/n/e/s, and Automobiles

Today we had intended to go down to Silver Springs for the Lyon County Fly-In aviation event at the Silver Springs airport, but heavy rains and flooding Saturday night canceled the vendors and many of the events, so instead (since we needed to do our heavy grocery shopping anyway) we drove into Reno to see the National Automobile Museum, also known as "The Harrah Collection" inasmuch as it is built from the core of the late Bill Harrah's (of Harrah's casino entertainment group) huge collection of vehicles. Harrah's collection (apparently as many as 1,400 cars) was at one time housed in a building in Sparks, and Lisa and I went and visited it there years ago. Harrah had made no provision for the care of his collection after his death, and when he died most of the vehicles were sold, although 147 were saved for the 501(c)(3) museum formed after his death. The museum is just south of the Truckee River in downtown Reno. (If you'd been at Renovation and wanted to see it, it would have been a short bus ride on the express buses that run along Virginia Street.)

The Thomas Flyer

Arguably the star of the collection is the 1907 Thomas Flyer, the winner of the 1908 New York to Paris around-the-world automobile race. It took 169 days, with much of the trip being done by driving along railroad tracks because there really weren't roads in lots of the places the cars were trying to travel. This is the actual car that made the trip, restored to approximately its post-race condition.

First Car in the Collection

There are four galleries, starting with the 1890s and ending with modern race cars. This is the car that started Harrah's collection, a 1911 (originally mistakenly identified as a 1907) Maxwell.

1930s Street

Between the galleries are "streets" of different periods. This is the 1930s. Note the Burma-Shave signs.

Kuma in a Klassic

You're allowed to touch and sit in one of the cars: a Model T on the 1920s street. travelswithkuma takes a turn in the driver's seat.

Behind the Wheel of a Model T

Here's the view from behind the wheel.

Stanley Steamer Bus

This is a Stanley Steamer (no relation) Bus, with a convenient watering hose; drop it into any available water source to refill the boiler for the steam-powered vehicle. There are several other steam-powered cars in the collection.

All Electric

Think electric cars are a new invention? Here's an early 20th-centry all-electric car powered by some 68 batteries. Elsewhere in the museum is an electric car that held the world land speed record for all-electric vehicles at one time.

Space Mobile

The current rotating exhibit is about space vehicles, including this mobile laboratory and a replica of a Mars exploration probe. I was fascinated at collection of Alan Bean's paintings.

Gallery 3 at NAM

Gallery 3 includes cars of the 1930s through the 1950s.

57 Chevy

And what collection of such cars would be complete without a '57 Chevy?

Race Cars and Hot Rods

The final gallery is full of race cars and oddities...

Roth's Beatnik Bandit

...including Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's "Beatnik Bandit" (you drive it with the joystick visible under the bubble) and a number of other one-off odd vehicles the creator of Rat Fink built.

There are more photos than what I show here; click through to see the rest of them.

We spent a fair bit of the day at the museum. I'd allow at least one hour per gallery if you like reading the displays. Also note that aside from a single vending machine, there is no food and drink available at the museum. By the time we were done, I was pretty tired and my legs hurt. It might have worked a bit better to be there at opening, look at a couple of galleries, walk across the river to downtown Reno for lunch, then come back for the rest of the afternoon.

In our case, after our day at the museum, we drove down to the Atlantis and had a late lunch/early dinner at Cafe Alfresco, where luck was really with me on the keno, and even after using some winnings to buy five more games of keno and tipping the keno runner, I still had $3.50 more than I started. Lisa also had good luck initially with the slots, but it did catch up with us later.

We did not forget to do the actual errand for which we came to Reno, and made our trip to Winco to stock up on groceries before heading home. Our timing was good; we avoided the thunderstorms that have been moving through the area, and they didn't hit us until after we got the groceries in.
Tags: "kuma bear", lisa, museums, reno
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