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Former auto factory is now home to Iowa Transportation Museum in Grinnell

(Radio Iowa News) – The Iowa Transportation Museum is now open in Grinnell. The museum is at the site where Spaulding cars were once manufactured. Executive director, Chuck Brooke, says the Spaulding history is a prominent part of the museum.

“We have the Spaulding car and a Spaulding buggy that was manufactured there. And we have quite a bit of historical things about the Spaulding family,” Brooke says. “And the museum itself is in a building that was their office building — a two-story brick building built in about 1910. The second floor is where we have the museum, and it right now is featuring mostly railroad type items.”

Brooke says the building itself is an exhibit. “We restored the building and put it back as much as we can to what it originally was as far as the interior of it. This was an office building, there’s a big two-floor safe in there that was the Spaulding’s office safe, and a lot of neat glass work on the first floor,” Brooke says.

He says they have been able to piece together one of the original cars that was built on the site. “It’s not completely restored, but what we have has been refurbished, repainted and we’ve manufactured some parts. We weren’t able to find a car that was complete, so we ended up getting this car that was kind of a basket case you might say, and have done quite a bit of work on the car,” Brooke says.

The museum has worked with the Grinnell model railroad club on many of the railroad exhibits that are displayed in the museum. Brooke says an retired engineer in the club has also built an exhibit that lets visitors experience what it is like to fly.

“He built this exhibit where he has a model airplane in it and you can sit down and we have a flight simulator there that you can start up and you actually hear a sound that sounds like a single-engine airplane, and has a stick that you can pull back and forth and raise the airplane up. It’s a model airplane that has about a 24-inch wingspan on it,” Brooke says.

Brooke says they are hoping to get people in to look at the museum and will gradually work to show various aspects of transportation history. “We plan to change these exhibits from time-to-time and bring in new things, and we have some people that we visit with to help us refresh it,” according to Brooke.

The museum is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and on Sunday from noon until 4 p.m.