New exhibit motors into Cambridge Historic Museum

A new exhibit at the Cambridge Historic Museum explores the unlikely connection between Cambridge and motors—from Matt Kenseth to Harley-Davidson and motor boats.

The exhibit, titled Wrenches, Wheels and A Propeller opens this Friday, Oct. 6, after the Cambridge High School Homecoming Parade.

Work on the exhibit began after the Matt Kenseth Museum on Main Street in Cambridge closed this summer. The Cambridge Historic Museum was offered some of its keepsakes.

The new room, Cambridge Historic Museum Director Peg Sullivan says, is the result of a synergy she noticed between Matt Kenseth, David Scobie, Arthur Davidson and Ole Evinrude.

“Each person has a historic relationship to the community with a common theme and success in their mechanical or manufacturing careers,” Sullivan said. “I like to think of this room as a poster child for tech education,”

Features are antique boat motors of Evinrude’s design, Harley-Davidson memorabilia and artifacts, bios and history on all the men, and the hold overs form the Matt Kenseth Museum.

To put the exhibit together, Sullivan says she spent “two long days” at the Wisconsin Historical Society, going over census records and land requests to find out all there was to know about the four men featured.

“It’s just such an interesting story,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan discovered fascinating tidbits during her research.

For example, Arthur Davidson, of the motorcycle company Harley-Davidson, was of Scottish decent and would take yearly summer retreats at Lake Ripley, where his mother Margaret McFarlane Davidson was born. Margaret’s father built the original Oakland-Cambridge Presbyterian church near Lake Ripley.

“When you keep piecing together all these different stories, it really became the Scottish immigrant story to this community,” Sullivan said.

David Scobie, the least well-known of the four, was another Scottish immigrant. He served in the Civil War and then apprenticed in blacksmithing, ultimately holding a number of patents and opening up a large factory in Cambridge where today Galleria 214 sits.

“A very, very successful man,” Sullivan said of Scobie. “I was very drawn to his story.”

Sullivan encourages those wanting to see the exhibit to catch it soon. After this Friday, the museum will be open three more times: Saturday, Oct. 7 and 14, and Wednesday, Oct. 11, before closing for the season. Hours are 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. For more information visit the museum’s website: www.cambridgehistoricmuseum.org/

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Craig Ballantyne

I love anything to do with Harley Davidson and have two beautiful children and a beautiful partner. In my spare time i like building websites and love anything to do with the internet.

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