Motorcycles, Travel & Adventure
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1003 Electric Rd, Salem, VA • 540-387-9780
About Big City Getaway
Looking for a simple day trip? Just a neat destination to give you an excuse to ride? We bet some days you are. That is what Big City Getaway is all about. There are great roads and interesting destinations all around. Every month we’ll give you one in Big City Getaway.
24 Rexford St, Norwich, NY 13815 • 607-334-2886 • Open Daily 9am-5pm
We seem to be on a roll with classic automobile museums. As true motorheads, we always appreciate the way vehicles have evolved and change in styling, size, efficiency, and flair.
Heading up through central New York State we made a point of passing through the town of Norwich and making a stop at the Northeast Classic Car Museum.
The Museum, started by George Staley, with a good part of the automobiles found in the museum part of his extensive collection. All of his cars have a story to tell, but none may be as interesting as his. George Staley helped prep one of the most important missions in history. When World War II began, Staley's mechanical aptitude brought him into the service as an airplane engine technician. He eventually was sent to the Pacific theatre. Tinian.
To hear George tell the story… "Col. Tibbits was my boss and I made sure the Enola Gay was ready for the mission." He said he and others knew something big was afoot but they were not sure what. The entire mission was shrouded in secrecy. He did know the Enola Gay had a bomb bay much bigger than the standard. Even with only Air Force men on the island, the plane was guarded both day and night by military police. "At night the bomb was dropped into the pit and we all knew this was the day," said Staley. He had done a lot of work with photography and when he heard over the radio the bomb had been dropped, Staley went out and waited for the craft to return. By now, he and the others had been briefed on what had taken place. As the plane taxied down the runway, Staley moved his jeep into position. The crew of the bomber, with Tibbits at the head, posed for pictures. The commanding officer came out and pinned the Distinguished Service Cross on Tibbits' chest. Staley was certain he had the only color photos of that momentous occasion - truly amazing.
Amazing in another way is his museum.
The Northeast Classic Car Museum has five separate buildings that bring you through an amazing collection of automobiles from the past to the fairly modern era.
As you stroll through the museum's first room you will find the Pre-War collection of vehicles including electric, steam and combustion engines. This historical display is educational and remarkable. Vehicles include Knox, Model T, Scripps Booth, Hupmobile, Duesenberg, Packard, and 1930 Henderson motorcycle to name a few.
Moving on you will come across Staley's large collection of Franklins, made in NY with air-cooled engines. The museum has the largest collection on display including the 3rd one ever built and the last.
As the Second World War ended car design and manufacturing exploded and the Northeast's collection of Post-War, from the late '40s through the 1980's, is a delight. If you like fins and chrome, this exhibit is for you! Cars like Desoto, Studebaker, Windsor, Nash, Crosley, and Hudson. Muscle Cars are included in this room such as Super Bee & Road Runner to name a couple.
The Studebaker, with its tri-tone color scheme, and the Desoto with its fins, swivel bucket seats and pizzazz screamed of the booming American economy after the war.
The museum has a solid collection of WWI and WWII airplane engines as well as an impressive display of ‘Trucks at Work.'
The Cars Made... in New York State will surprise you as well.
In the center of one building, the good-sized gathering of motorcycles caught our eye and we spent a good long time taking in the varied and rare machines they had on display.
One of the two guides, Stephen, had his own 1969 Honda CB750 on display and there were some other machines that quickly drew our attention such as the 1937 ‘Upside Down” Indian, the 1905 Excelsior and the 1951 BMW 350 Sidecar. One machine popped out at us and that was the 1968 Bridgestone 350 Racer. This was considered a very sophisticated machine back in the day, with a disc-valve induction parallel twin 2-stroke engine. The same owner, Randy Gibbon, had a street version GTR as well.
As superb as these machines were Bridgestone ceased building motorcycles altogether to concentrate on the Bridgestone tires for which the Japanese company is still well known.
When was the last time you saw these machines?
The Northeast Classic Car Museum, like many others, rotates their displays. So, what you might find there could be different from what we found. But, we know you will be impressed regardless.
While exploring central New York make it a point to drop in at the Northeast Classic Car Museum and take a good look at our automotive past.