Featured photo for Owls Head Transportation Museum

Owls Head Transportation Museum

I had just finished eating a scrumptious salad at Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro, Maine, when I consulted Gary McKenchnie’s book, Great American Motorcycle Tours, about the next leg of the White Mountains to Blue Seas drive.

“Hey, what’s this?” I mused after reading a paragraph. “A ‘transportation museum’ just southeast of Camden.” Reading on, I noted something about planes, some vintage Harleys, and even a prototype 1963 Mustang. I think the latter just about did it for me since I was driving (and enthralled with) a 2008 Mustang on this trip.

So I punched in “Owls Head Transportation Museum” in my Garmin GPS device and away I went. Turns out the museum was not very far off the Coast Highway—Highway 1—that I was already on.

It also turned out that it was perhaps the most interesting museum I’ve ever been to. All vehicles in there (but one) were pre-World War II machines, and many dated back to the early part of the 20th century. Each one was a notable part of motoring and aviation history, which made it so interesting.

See the photos below for examples. The captions explain their significance.

The only post-WW II machine I saw? The prototype Mustang. It wasn’t even on the main floor though—instead, it was stashed away in the shadows of a storage room. So I couldn’t see it up close, but at least elsewhere in the museum was a photo providing a side shot.

This 1913 Deperdussin (replica) was advanced for its time with its streamlined, monocoque fuselage.  In 1913 it achieved 126.7 mph.
A 1931 Henderson and a 1916 Sopwith Pup (that the German Red Baron considered superior to his own plane).
The 1919 Harley-Davidson Model J.
The 1941 Harey-Davidson EL featured a "knucklehead" twin-V motor.  This bike was fitted with a sidecar after purchase.
A 1932 Harley Davidson Model V with a 28-hp twin-V and three-speed chain drive, and a plane owned by the Harry Jones Flying Service that gave paid biplane rides in New England.
An Indian, the first American-made motorcycle (beating Harley-Davidson by a couple years).
1945 Gazda Helicospeeder.
The evolution of the wheel.
The 1908 Sears Motor Buggy.  Sears stopped making cars in 1912 due to losing money.
The 1902 Curved Dash Olds represents America's oldest automobile manufacturer (Oldsmobile), which made cars before 1900.
1887 Safety Bicycle.
A 1914 Rolls-Royce Limousine drove 15,000 miles nonstop -- shattering the previous endurance record -- and only needed 2.12 British pounds of repairs afterwards.  Funny how this was so much more reliable than British cars of the 1960s!
The 1898 Nichols Ladies Safety bicycle allowed women to easily mount while wearing ankle-length dresses.
The 1963 Gemini Space Capsule program cost $5.4 billion.
Ford Model Ts were used for everything.  This one was converted into a snowmobile.
This 1928 Worthington Tractor started out as a Model T.
This 1916 Ford Speedster semi-racer-race car was converted from a standard Model T.  The engine conversion doubled the horsepower from the 4 cylinders and made 65 mph possible, although braking was not commmensurate with the speed.
Contrary to popular belief, Model Ts were originally available in different colors.  Only later on (to cut costs and drying time) was black the only option.
Lurking in a backroom was what appeared to be a 1963 prototype Ford Mustang!
This photo shows what the prototype looked like.
This 1935 Auburn 851 speedster looked fast all right.  With 150 hp, it was the first American stock car to exceed 100 mph for a 12 hour period.  Unfortunately, Auburn could not survive the Great Depression.
A 1933 Packard Tenth Series Convertible Sedan.  Despite the Great Depression, Packard continued to produce ever more luxurious and well-crafted cars.
The 1938 Eliot Cricket III had an engine that could run on any fuel and featured a one-piece frame and stainless steel body.
The 1913 Scripps Booth Bi-Autogo seated three, was powered by Detroit's first V-8 engine, and was an exclusive sports car.  Two pairs of landing wheels were used to maintain balance when traveling
The 1935 Stout Scarab had a rear Ford V-8 producing 200 hp.  Only nine were built.
A 1907 Renault Vanderbilt Racer.  Note the "NO SKID" tires.
The 1946 Whizzer Motorbike got 125 mpg with 2.5 hp.  Louis Bleriot and his 1909 Bleriot XI made the first aeroplane flight across the English Channel.
A 1906 Autocar Type XII (formerly the Pittsburgh Motor Vehicle Co.)  Autocar produced the U.S.'s first multi-cylinder, shaft driven car after performing poorly in the NYC-Buffalo Reliability Run using a chain drive.