Champlain Valley Transportation Museum
A blast to the past when there was cheap gas
Story and photos by Max Galanty
Cars have evolved a great deal since their first appearance on the streets. The car of yesterday never parallel parked itself but what it lacked in convenience it made up for in craftsmanship. To this day a car from the early 1900s will turn heads on the road or in a car show. Imagine now, what happens to people's heads when they are in a room full of old fashioned cars. This is what it's like in the Champlain Valley Transportation Museum (CVTM) in the old army base in Plattsburgh.
CVTM has about 15 cars dating back to the early 1900s, in the old maintenance garage once used by the army. The room is full of cars that have survived through a lot of history. One car in the museum lasted through more history then others. The Model A Ford is a flashback to 1929 when Ford Motor Company was brand new. The Model A had right side steering for overseas sales. The shiny chrome grill sports the blue and white Ford logo that is so well recognized today. The hood ornament was an option in 1929, that would run you about $30 extra, as were the side view mirrors back in the 1900s.
The fire red Plymouth with the siren on the roof was once a fire chief's car. The big body sedan is rounded in shape as are the bubble eyed head lights. The only comparison between the physically stunning shape of yesterday's fire chief's car and today's is the siren.
An interesting piece of machinery in the museum's collection is the Speed Wagon from Plattburgh's own Motor Service Company (a business which still operates today). The pick-up truck dates back to 1924, the year the company was first established.
Arguably the biggest attraction of the car portion of CVTM is the spelling passenger Type 82 Lozier from 1915. The type 82 in the showroom is the only known Type 82 in existence and its driven on a regular basis. The car is tremendous in size and each inch has some kind of detail. The beige fabric top, which was hand made, looks like a cap one of the kids wear in the movie "Newsies." Perhaps the most luxurious thing about this car is the wooden box that protrudes from the spare tire on the back that holds wine bottles.
"CVTM has about 15 cars dating back to the early 1900s, in the old maintenance garage once used by the army"
One car is more modern then the others, the 1967 cherry red Jaguar is a speed demon that looks like it's begging to speed out of the museum at any moment. Even if you don't know about car engines it's still fascinating to look under the hood because the engine is so big.
Also, on the showroom floor,there is a flight simulator once used to practice flying the plane that now sits at the traffic circle at Route 9.
There is a lot to see at CVTM. Some cars have keys in them, some have registration sticker and even recently passed inspection. The staff there will show you around and explain the importance of each automobile and pop open the trunks, hoods or doors if you wish. They will also gladly show you the garage where they fix cars before they go out into the showroom.
CVTM is a stimulating experience for the whole family with its kids station, where young kids can play with toys, and the Weatherwax sailboat tour in the warmer seasons. The Weatherwax is a replica 1820 sail ferry and they will take you on a historic tour.
Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
$3 minimum donation
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