A Little Story on the Van Horn Truck Museum

1914 REO Model J

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Van Horn Van Horn Truck Museum 15272 North Street, Winnebago Heights Mason City, Iowa 50401

About 25 years ago, on a Saturday afternoon, a friend talked me into going to an antique auto auction with him. Up to that point I had never collected antiques of any kind, but I thought I would go with him just to see what an antique auto auction was like. Well, there happened to be two interesting old trucks on the sale and the next thing I knew I bought them both!

This led to going to more sales and resulted in spending much of my spare time looking for and restoring early make's of rare or unusual trucks. I stuck with buying just pre-1930 trucks and mostly the rare makes, which were built by companies that are long gone. At first I had in mind to try and locate one of each make ever built, until I found out there were 1,801 companies over the years that had tried their luck at building trucks.

My wife Margaret also took an interest in the old trucks and soon she was doing the seat upholstery work, as well as helping with keeping the Museum open in the summer months. Our grandson Scott also became interested and is now involved with much of the restoration work, so this turned out to be a family project that we all enjoy.

1914 REO Model J (two ton). REO stands for Ransom E. Olds, the only man in automotive history to have two companies named for him, and both companies surviving into modern times REO Motor Co. and Olds Motor Works.

The Museum was opened 10 years ago after the truck collection had grown to a point that I had trucks stored in buildings all over the place. The museum started out in a building that had been used for a turkey processing plant, and since its opening two more large buildings have been added.

Once the Museum was up and running we decided to build a 1930 storefront street, down through the main museum building. This includes several old general stores, a firehouse, Studebaker garage, gas stations, old parts store, and even an old warehouse complete with loading dock where trucks are loading. Old trucks are parked out in front of all these stores. We have also added old advertising signs, garage tools and equipment, old gas pumps, early toys, and even early household items to stock the general store.

The Museum is open daily during the summer from May 25 through September 22; there is an admission charge to help with the upkeep. People who come from all over the country find it a fun and interesting experience for the whole family. There are over 60 different types on display and many can be found nowhere else in the country. The trucks are almost all restored to their original condition and equipped with a variety of different types of bodies.

The Museum is located just two miles north of Mason City, Iowa, along US Highway 65. Mason City is just eight miles east off Interstate 35, and is located halfway between Des Moines, Iowa, and Minneapolis, Minnesota.