Just a short 30 minute drive from the suburbs of Hartford, I discovered a rather interesting and delightful place. The Golden Age of Trucking Museum isn’t anything that you might expect; it’s not located in a field in the middle of nowhere nor is it is located in a dilapidated barn. It’s not dirty, grungy, or smelly. The museum is a place to bring your whole family on a journey of discovery. Learn about the leviathans that used to prowl the streets and highways of this country, along with re-discovering your own love for the big trucks you remember when you were young. The Golden Age of Trucking Museum is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1998 by the late Richard Guerrera and his wife Francis while they resided in the bucolic town of Middlebury, Connecticut. Richard owned a very successful trucking company located in the neighboring town of Naugatuck with a fleet of trucks that grew to over 120 units operating all over the country. This spawned an interest in collecting and restoring antique trucks. Over a number of years he would take the vehicles he collected and show them at national truck shows or offer them to be used in local events. When his collection approached the 20 pristine examples he collected and restored during this period, he wanted to have a place where he could showcase them in one location, so the Golden Age of Trucking Museum was incorporated in 1998, with a mission statement that reads, “To educate the public, and to preserve and exhibit the history of American truck transportation with a special emphasis on the 1950’s Golden Age of Trucking.” The property in which the museum now resides was purchased by Guerrera in July of 1998, when he began the long process of getting town approval for the site usage. Shortly afterwards, Guerrera was diagnosed with cancer and it was up to his wife Frances along with the newly created board of directors to see the project through. Guerrera was transported to the future museum site in an ambulance in June of 1999 to attend an unofficial groundbreaking featuring five of his antique trucks along with his family and close friends. His fight with cancer ended a month later. However, his dream never died, and a new 32,000 square foot facility was erected with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony taking place on September 23, 2002.
The collection housed within the museum includes models produced from 1900 right up to 1974. The collection includes the well-known truck brands such as Mack, GMC, International, Jeep, Dodge, Kenworth and White, but also includes less-well-known makes such as Pierce Arrow, Diamond T, REO, Autocar, Brockway, Studebaker, and Republic. All of the displayed units are in remarkable condition, almost as if they just came off the production line. Most of the museum collection is on permanent display, with others on loan from collectors and displayed on a rotating schedule. The museum is set up with specific areas including the “Showroom” which houses the collection, “The Founders Gallery,” which has continuous displays of local artists, “Library Lane” which is a reading area geared for adults, “Interactive Interstate,” which is the children’s area and is entirely hands-on including computer displays, books, blocks, puzzles, games, and a full size cut-away of a Volvo truck cab.
If you are interested in holding a special occasion at the museum, they have the “Founders Gallery” room available, which has space for 78 people seated at tables. If that isn’t what you are looking for, “Waramug Way,” which houses a couple of display boats, has room for 50 people. Or you can convert the Display Area to seat up to 248 guests at a private function. There are also special events that take place year ’round, including cruise nights, antique car and truck events, harvest festivals, Santa Claus visits, and art openings.
Currently, the museum is running a fund-raising campaign. Over the past several years, the economic downturn has taken its toll on revenue, and the museum has taken some cost-saving measures such as performing maintenance with volunteers, and having next to no full-time employees. They are trying to raise $100,000 by the end of the year and you can help. Go to the Golden Age of Trucking Museum website and click on the “Fund Raisers” button to make a donation. If you are close to Connecticut, take some time to visit the Golden Age of Trucking Museum and you will see that it is truly an unexpected roadside discovery.