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Glenn H Curtiss Museum: a Former Wine Factory Full of Vintage Cars, Bikes, and Airplanes
We've had the pleasure of traveling to some truly spectacular museums and private collections in my travels at autoevolution. But perhaps never before in the history of our time traveling to take pictures for you have I been able to satisfy so many of our reader's niches in one stop.

Glenn H Curtiss Museum: a Former Wine Factory Full of Vintage Cars, Bikes, and Airplanes

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The Glenn H Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, New York, has what you're looking for. Be it bicycles, motorcycles, classic cars, antique airplanes, you name it. It's all to showcase and keep alive the legacy of Hammondsport's iconic native son, Glenn Hammond Curtiss. A man whose inventions contributed to the development of the motorcycle and the aerospace sector.

It was founded in 1961 and opened in 1962 in a former high school but moved to a plot of land formerly owned by a winery in 1992. The 60,000-foot warehoused-sized facility has a vast collection of airplanes, motorcycles, and airplanes related to and built during the time period of Mr. Curtiss's life and illustrious career in both the motorbike and aviation industries. Helping the United States to become a superpower in these fields during his lifetime.

From his very first homemade motorcycles with tomato soup cans for carburetors to his first-ever V-twin engine to the firebreathing V8 motorcycle, every era of Curtiss motorcycles is represented at the museum with large text displays to help contextualize affairs and provide enough background information to fully understand how groundbreaking every single one of Glenn Curtiss's inventions indeed was in their day.

It's all housed at the front of the museum's main exhibit floor in chronological order for us all to appreciate. Moving onto the more open rear portion of the building, a collection of airplanes, seaplanes, classic cars, classic motorcycles, and pieces of regalia from Curtiss's own megamansions and properties immerses you into his life.

The life of a man who knew no boundaries of science and understood he had the engineer's mind to make the world exponentially faster. Ample space is also dedicated to Curtiss engines of all shapes and sizes, from the previously mentioned first V-twin to the V8 in his land speed record bike all the way to the Curtiss OX-5 engine synonymous with the pioneer years of powered flight.

As many as two or three dozen more classic bikes of both Curtiss's and other bikemakers' creations are laid out in self-contained sections throughout the single-level museum space. If early aviation is your thing, the slew of early Curtiss airplanes and replicas is sure to excite too.

Replica of the AEA Junebug Curtiss designed to out-engineer the Wright brothers is prominently displayed, as is a real Curtiss JN-4 Jenny WWI trainer, Curtiss Oriole, and Robin utility bi-planes, and a C-46 Commando WWII cargo aircraft sitting as a gate guard in the grass next to the museum's main entrance.

If antique cars are more your thing, there's plenty to excite here as well. With Ford Model Ts aplenty and so many of its contemporaries, there's enough here to film a decent movie about the early 20th century. There's a fair bit of kit from more modern eras of automobiles here as well.

But considering Curtiss himself died in 1930, aged only 52, he's a man whose museum will perpetually stay set in a generation nearly all of whom were there to see it have long since departed. With a kind and knowledgeable curator, the incomparable Richard Leisenring. Jr and his top not staff of volunteers and tour guides, this is a must-see destination for any petrolhead passing through the gorgeous Finger Lakes region of Central New York.

Not the least bit because this region is New York's world-famous wine region. So if you want to take a trip to this region and don't want to say you're there just to drink for two or three days straight, a couple of hours in this museum is all the justification you need.

Afterward, you can pour yourself a bottle of the finest Rosé you can find and ponder what the world would look like had Glenn Curtiss not departed this Earthly plane so soon. If we had to guess, we'd have probably broken the sound barrier five or even ten years earlier.

Many thanks to Richard Leisenring and his staff for a certified top-shelf personal guided tour and for the free Curtiss Motorcycle cap once it was finished. You bet your socks. I'm never giving that up.

Check out more from our trip to the Glenn H Curtiss Museum right here on autoevolution.


Editor's note: This article was not sponsored or supported by a third-party.

 
 
 
 
 

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