A Must See if you get close to western NY... - Honda Shadow Forums : Shadow Motorcycle Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-16-2007, 09:31 PM Thread Starter
Aeromark99's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: NE OH
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A Must See if you get close to western NY...

I visited the Glenn H. Curtiss Aviation museum today in Hammondsport, NY - about a 1/2 hour due west from Watkins Glen. Like the Wrights - Glenn Curtiss got his start as a bicycle mfr. Unlike the Wrights, Glenn had a taste for speed - and motorcycles.

This place is FANTASTIC. They have turn-of-the century bicycles, motorcycles, and dirigible engines....not to mention full-sized aeroplanes from 1908-1945. A spectacular collection that includes more than a few mfrs' 1900s motorcycles, a 30s HD hillclimber, an unrestored 36 Indian (w/sidecar), a late 40s Whizzer (mint), and a 70s CB350 (also mint).

Tucked in the middle of nowhere (and I mean - NOwhere) - at least by today's standards, the museum truly is rooted in the cradle of the motorcycle and aviation industries - Hammondsport, NY. I bet THAT town never comes to mind when you think of the first truly great motorcycles and planes - huh?

I bet I passed this place a couple dozen times over the past ten years - always promising myself I'd visit it 'someday'.

Today was the day.

FWIW - Curtiss was making V-twin Motorcycles in 1903 - and then sold V-twin engines to dirigible makers like Thomas Baldwin.....a full six years prior to 'the motor company' coming out with its first V-twin. For sake of reference. He was also the 'Fastest Man on Earth' in 1907 - clocking 136.3 MPH on his own V-8 motorcycle.

A link to the museum collection is at Glenn Curtiss Museum

This V-twin Curtiss MC is a classic! I just about melted when I saw it - Just the detail in the drive belt alone is enough to make you go weak in the knees. That - and along with the V-8 MC that set the speed record in 1907.

Glenn Curtiss is a VASTLY under-rated inventor. One of the truly greats.

Oh - and if anyone thinks that shaft drive is a modern mode of power transmission?

The Curtiss Museum has a BICYCLE with shaft drive from 1899!

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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-17-2007, 02:16 AM
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Location: Huntingdon, TN
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Very Cool! I am always up for a visit to either an air or motorcycle museum, combining the two is even better! Thank you for the pics and the write-up. I doubt very much I'll be in the area to see it, so hearing from someone that did is really cool. We ought to try to set up a 'destinations' section of the forum... by state, or region, maybe. There are so many out of the way places that are definitely worth visiting, but that most of us will never even know exist.

Some minds are like concrete.... thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.

'05 VLX, searching for other Tennessee forum members
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-17-2007, 08:48 AM
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That's amazing. I live in a small town in South Florida that he founded. They still have the mansion he lived in, although it's in rough shape and they are trying to restore it. He was a great aviation pioneer down here and they even have a small museum in town about his aviation carreer.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-17-2007, 10:17 AM
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Here's a picture of the Curtis V8, yes a V8 that he built in 1906. This bike is in the Aeronautical and Space Museum in DC. According to the information on it Curtis built the engine at the request of several aircraft designers then told his engineers to build a frame that would support it. He then set a world speed record with it of 136 mph in January 1907 at Ormond Beach Florida and as a result was dubbed "the worlds fastest man."

Sorry for the quaity of the picture but it was hard to photograph in the museum.

Best and Ride Safe

Dearly Departed 2004 Sabre...RIP
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-17-2007, 06:14 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
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I've never heard of this place and it's only around 100 miles NE of me. (just right for a neat day ride). Thanks for the info Aeromark, I like these kind of places, it'll be on the "to go to" list for this upcomming season.

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-17-2007, 08:36 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Catskill Mts, NY
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I've known about Glenn Curtiss for at least 40 years. My Dad was an old time flyer and he knew much about Curtiss. He was always praising his acheivements. The two different machines shared a great many disirable characteristics, Light weight, high strength and high power to weight being just a few. You'd be surprised at how many inventors crossed over between motorcycles and flying machines. Those Great Pioneers made it all possible for the remarkable advancements in the 20's and 30's.

Europe also had a similar breed.

It must have been a great time to be involved with mechanics.

I didn't know about the museum, but it'll be on my list of things that I must see.



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