America On Wheels

Andy Bunch

Who doesn’t love a museum? Well, it probably depends on what the museum is dedicated to. If what leaps to mind is modern art, you either got really excited or really not. Well there are a ton of car museums out there. If there’s one in your town, no matter how small, let us know in the comment section or send us a message. Until then, here is one of the big ones…

America on Wheels 

Located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, America on Wheels pays homage to everything transportation. Offering guided tours every Wednesday and Friday of their state of the art restoration center, as well as being open daily to view their regular galleries and rotating displays. The museum is currently displaying the Gary Hiller Collection. They also offer student camps and field trips to inspire the next generation of car enthusiasts. 

With all three galleries, the restoration center, artist spaces, and the Hubcap Cafe the campus is 43,000 square feet. 

You can view a huge variety of  bicycles, motorcycles, automobiles and trucks from carriages to cars of the future. 

Where it Came From

The museum is that gem of the “Lehigh Landing redevelopment project which started in 1989. The goal was to turn the Arbogast & Bastian meat packing plant and its surrounding areas into a tourist attraction with a brewery, walking trails, a footbridge across the river, and a promenade for festivals.

Express-Times Photo | BILL ADAMS

The project wasn’t complete until 2008 and came in at a little over $17 million. (Remember when you could build something for just $17 million?) 

What NOT to Miss

The 1889 Nadig Gas-Powered Carriage was found rusting out in an old garage. It turns out to have been one of the first gas-powered vehicles driven in the US. Owned and operated by Henry Nadig, a German-born mechanic native to Allentown, who was ordered by police to drive at night to avoid scaring horses. 

The Hubcap Cafe is a 1950s style diner brought back to life by a $200,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. The dinner is a complete experience with malted shakes, soda jerks, and waitresses on roller skates. You need to try it. 

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