If you’re a motorcycle enthusiast, you’ll be amazed by Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley. If you’re also a history buff, you’ll want to spend a couple of hours in this amazing place, at the very least. We’re avid bikers, so we’d heard from friends that this place was a “must-see.”
There are over 350 rare motorcycles and automobiles on display at Wheels Through Time (with the far larger number being motorcycles). Many are in the original used condition, untouched by restoration, meaning that they retain a very high dollar value.
You can almost smell the exhaust and feel the rush of the wind as the early bikers hit the streets on these machines, some quite primitive. One can trace the cultural evolution of the hobby of motorcycle collecting and riding as it snaked through the decades from the daredevils of the early years, steadily collecting steam. Today, a leather-wearing sub-culture of doctors and lawyers who gear up on weekends and retired cruiser-riding gentlefolks have whole-heartedly joined the ranks of hard-core bikers streaming through this unique museum. The passion has collected some of us all through the years.
Featured on the History Channel’s “American Restoration,” Wheels Through Time Museum and its founder, motorcycle collector and expert Dale Walksler, have enjoyed a recent uptick in notoriety. The popular TV show is dedicated to restoration projects of every kind.
Wheels Through Time is located in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, just five miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We stopped in on a lovely autumn afternoon and were immediately taken by the large inventory. Forty-thousand square feet of rare and unique motorcycles and automobiles, and lots of associated memorabilia in attractive, historically-themed displays kept us gawking for over an hour. We were literally taken back in time! Mr. Walksler himself was on hand, chatting with visitors.
Dale Walksler started this epic collection of American motorcycles in 1969. Along the way he has amassed unique bikes from twenty-five makers in a world-renowned display. There are military exhibits featuring bikes used during both World Wars. The museum’s chopper collection brings back to life the drive to make traditional bikes lighter and faster while customizing them for an individualized “cool” factor a whole generation of bikers craved. There are exceptionally rare motorcycles in Mr. Walksler’s collection, like the bike believed to have been built and owned by Oscar Hedstrom, the inventor of the Indian motorcycle and the 1912 Thor motorcycle that is said to have been owned by William Ottaway, chief engineer and head of racing for Thor.
If you are into racing history, you’ll find the “hillclimb” competition-era machines pretty fascinating! This new genre of the sport pushed manufacturers to new heights of innovation as the era of board track racing waned. You’ll also enjoy checking out the bikes from the “Class-C” racing era which spanned 1934-1969, and many other interesting and very valuable machines throughout the museum.
Cruise through the gift shop on your way out and grab a hat (like I did) or a t-shirt to remember your visit! I give this location five stars out of five for interest and quality of displays. It truly is a highlight of the Maggie Valley experience!
For more information, visit Wheels Through Time Museum or call 828-926-6266. The museum is open seasonally from March 1st through November 28th each year on Thursdays through Mondays (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays) Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for senior adults, and $7 for children.
Laurie Crater Battles – journalist, writer, hiker, biker, mom, wife, animal and coffee lover who makes her home in west Knoxville.