…that’s what you’ll find at Wheels O’ Time.
What began as a storage space for collector cars has evolved into a museum housing a vast collection of central Illinois memorabilia. The Wheels O’ Time Museum, opened in 1977, is a place where people can learn about the past… or relive it. From Altorfer Bros. washing machines made in East Peoria to Holt and Best tractors to toys, clothing and more, treasures abound in this oft-overlooked site, nestled on a few acres on Peoria’s north end.
Four buildings house a variety of exhibits, including unique cars, Caterpillar tractors, fire trucks, trains, clocks, old-time music machines, farm equipment, toys and a rotating exhibit courtesy of the Early Ford V-8 Club. The Ford cars are rotated monthly and feature different years and makes, all with Ford engines. Throughout the month of June, Wheels O’ Time will feature the Silver Streak: a 1926 Ford Model T that six women from Bradford, Illinois—known as the Gypsy Coeds—used to tour the country from 1936 to 1942, visiting servicemen from the area. Also featured will be a car just like the 1934 Ford V8 from the movie Bonnie & Clyde—but minus the bullet holes.
Another exhibit opening this year, River and Rails, will feature models of the Columbia steamboat and the Spirit of Peoria paddle wheeler, a 200-foot-wide map of the Illinois River from 1902, and a model of a TP&W steam locomotive, built when the TP&W Bridge over the river could not handle the weight of typical steam locomotives—and one of only five manufactured. Other items on loan pertaining to the river will also be on display, and guest speakers will make appearances throughout the year.
In July, Wheels O’ Time will host its Tractor Month. After the Heart of Illinois Fair, the tractors will make their way to the museum, where they will be on display from July 19th to 24th. On the morning of July 24th, the tractors will head 15 miles northeast to Princeville to celebrate Heritage Days and the Summer Harvest Antique Tractor & Equipment Show.
The Wheels O’ Time Museum has exhibits for all ages to enjoy. “Every visitor has a different view of what they enjoy and what they like,” says Marsha Johnson, site manager. “Even if you were here a dozen times or more, you’d see things you’ve never seen before when you return.” The museum also hosts tours for schools, daycare groups, summer camps, family outings and car groups—all of which get something unique out of the visits. As marketing director Bobbie Rice says, “It’s not just a car museum or a train museum—it’s a little bit of everything!” iBi
The Wheels O’ Time Museum is open from noon to 5pm Wednesday to Sunday each week, May through October, including summer holidays. For more information, visit wheelsotime.org.