A Little Story on the Van Horn Truck Museum

By Staff
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This 1910 Avery truck is still all original. This combination truck-tractor had a pulley on front of engine to run belt for a threshing machine. Built mostly for agricultural use.

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.

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