Wheels O’ Time Museum. Is it about cars? Is it about clocks? I wasn’t sure what to expect. It turns out “Wheels O’ Time” refers to the passage of time. The museum near Peoria, Illinois, focuses on manufacturing from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s. During this time. Peoria was a huge manufacturing city. It’s estimated that over 900 items, from bicycles to whiskey, were made in Peoria in the early 1900s. The Wheel O’ Time Museum recalls that era. Its 30,000 square feet of exhibit space spread across four buildings, plus outdoor space, is jam-packed with artifacts, mostly from the Peoria area.
Yes, there are cars…
I was partially right. Wheels O’ Time Museum displays quite a collection of transportation exhibits, including automobiles, railroad cars, bicycles, and models of steamboats and airplanes.
…and there are also clocks
Early music, early radio and other fun stuff
The player piano puts you in an upbeat mood as you enter the museum. Other musical gadgets play with the press of a button. Antique organs, phonographs, and a jukebox bring back days of time past.
Listen to the story of early Peoria radio station at the WMBD diorama. The radio station is Peoria’s oldest, dating back to 1927.
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One exhibit displays old kitchen gadgets, from an early toaster to the first vacuum cleaner. The vacuum cleaner used manual pump suction, not electricity. I think a broom and old-fashioned rug beater would have been easier to use.
Stairs from a fire station…and a brothel
You don’t think much about the staircase (shown below) until you hear the story of its origin. The staircase came from a former fire station. However, before that, it was in a brothel.
Fun mechanical horse story
John Kellogg, of cereal fame, invented the mechanical horse. He believed the jostling caused by the mechanical horse was good for your insides.
A wealthy Peoria family owned one of the mechanical horses. They would ride it on days when the weather was bad and they couldn’t ride their real horses. Sometime later, the museum obtained the mechanical horse and restored it. One day a woman from the wealthy family visited the museum. Now in her 80s, she said her husband would never let her ride the mechanical horse because he thought it was too dangerous. She asked if she could ride it now. And she did.
If you visit the Wheels O’ Time Museum
We were in the museum for almost two hours, and we only made it through two of the four buildings and took a few quick photos of the railroad cars. So you should definitely plan at least a half day to go through the entire museum.
The Wheels O’ time Museum is located about 20 minutes northwest of Peoria, at 1710 N Woodside Drive in Dunlap, Illinois. It’s open May through October. Check the website for hours, admission fees, and other details.
Disclosures: The Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Wheels O’ Time Museum hosted our visit to the museum. Our admission was complimentary. However, any opinions expressed in this post are strictly mine.
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