Monday, April 28, 2014

New Museum Exhibit: Extreme Motoring - Alaska Style!

by Nancy DeWitt
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

Moving in the 1921 Daniels
before opening day.
The Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum has an exciting milestone approaching. On June 1, 2009, we opened our museum to the public. In those five years we have experienced a lot of growth, gained many new fans, and expanded our collections--especially our historic clothing collection. While part of our museum's focus has always been on Alaska's automotive history, this year we are taking this theme a step further in celebration of our five-year anniversary.

On June 1, we will open a new exhibit titled "Extreme Motoring: Alaska's First Automobiles and Their Dauntless Drivers." Our Alaska Gallery will feature original Alaska cars, including the very first automobile driven in the Territory, as well as examples of the some of the first automobiles in Alaska. Some of these include the 1905 Sheldon, 1906 Pope-Toledo, 1907 White Steamer, 1908 Brush, and 1910 Chalmers-Detroit. New signage about the cars' histories and first owners will accompany each vehicle.

Alaska State Library P228-279
Our historic photograph exhibit is being updated with more photos of Alaska's first cars and the hardships encountered by their drivers. We are also creating new interpretive panels to tell the stories of the most adventurous of our pioneering motorists. You'll be able to learn more details about Bobby Sheldon and the runabout he built in Skagway in 1905, and Martin Itjen's "street cars"--accompanied by actual recordings of these men. We'll have an exhibit on Sheldon's pioneering drive between Fairbanks and Valdez in 1913, with new photographs provided by his daughter, Frances Erickson. Other exhibits will highlight Alaska's first motor stage drivers, Valdez's role in the 1908 New York-to-Paris Race, Charles Percival's transcontinental drive that took him to Skagway and over the White Pass in 1911, the history of the Valdez-Fairbanks Trail (now called the Richardson Highway), the first automobile races in Fairbanks, and the unusual snow vehicles Alaskan pioneers built for winter travel.

Our popular Sourdough Roadhouse exhibit, where visitors can dress up in old-time clothing and climb into a 1910 car for photos, is staying put but we've added more children's clothes to the "outhouse closet." Speaking of children, we're building a new play table where they can construct a roadhouse and drive toy cars between Fairbanks and Valdez.

Sandy Jamieson sketches the 1908 Brush.
On top of all of this there will be new additions to our audio tour and clothing exhibits. Later this summer we'll release a new coloring book about Bobby Sheldon's adventures, featuring whimsical illustrations by Fairbanks artist Sandy Jamieson.

"Extreme Motoring: Alaska's First Automobiles and Their Dauntless Drivers" will run through March 31, 2015 and is free with museum admission. If you are visiting from out of town, we hope you will choose to stay at Wedgewood Resortour exhibit sponsor and home to Bear Lodge and the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum. Hotel guests receive half-price admission to the museum, VIP access to museum tours, discounts on passes and a free shuttle to the University of Alaska Museum of the North, complimentary WiFi, and access to other resort activities, including our private nature reserve. Plus, you might get to see one or two of the museum cars motoring right past the hotel entrance!

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