Motorcycle Destination – Wheels Through Time
East of the Mississippi, it is hard to find a more memorable destination for motorcycle enthusiasts than Dale Walksler’s Wheels Through Time in Maggie Valley, N.C.
It includes some of the rarest and most interesting machines on two, three or four wheels. I had the chance to tour the facility and meet Dale Walksler back in 2006 and it’s hard to say which was more impressive — the amazing collection of vehicles or Walksler’s friendly and informative manner.
The facility’s slogan is “The museum that runs.” That’s more than just a play on words, according to Walksler, because it is a fact: every vehicle on display, no matter how old or rare runs!
Walksler opened the new 38,000 square foot facility in 2002 after relocating the collection from Mt. Vernon, Ill., and attendance has been climbing ever since. It is on pace in 2014 to shatter all previous attendance records having hosted more than 110,000 visitors since it opened for the season in March.
Museum staff estimate that 2014 total attendance could top 150,000 by the end of November when the facility closes for the season.
Wheels Through Time displays over 360 all-American motorcycles and automobiles, and continues to grow. Currently, the museum’s feature exhibit displays dozens of “Barn-finds” dating back as far as 1904, many of which were discovered during Season 1 of “What’s in the Barn?” which airs on Velocity TV.
Walksler has also created various smartphone applications about the museum collection, giving viewers access into the museum’s digital archives.
The Museum staff credit the “What’s in the Barn?” series with the dramatic increase in visitor volume at the museum. The series had its second season starting in June 2014. The show can reach 60 million homes in the U.S. and many countries around the world. Season three of the show is already in the works.
The museum’s new Seasonal Member Program has also had great success in attracting repeat visitors. When visitors to Wheels Through Time purchase a Museum “Member-Chip” for only $20, they receive a special edition 2014 Wheels Through Time poker chip which designates them as a season ticket holder.
With a “Member-Chip,” visitors receive free admission through the duration of the year. 2015 Museum “Member-Chips” will be available in October.
Throughout the season, regular hours are 9 a.m.- 5 p.m., Thursday-Monday (Closed Tues & Wed). For more information, visit www.WheelsThroughTime.com or call (828) 926-6266.
Photos by Gary Illminen