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Visitors come off the highway all year looking for motorcycle-related businesses and attractions. That first grand opening happened right next to the Pyramid Beer Gardens, on Main St., thanks to the space graciously donated by Gene Flagler.
With the relocation to the corner of Junction and Main streets in downtown Sturgis, South Dakota, the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame is now at the "motorcycle crossroads of the world". It is the epicenter of the most famous motorcycle event of them all. After being given the old post office building at that famous intersection, remodeling began in earnest to be ready for the 2002 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. All of the artifacts and motorcycles were transferred to the new location in June of this year. Almost immediately attendance increased, gift shop sales multiplied and raffle ticket numbers were zooming.
Bob Illingworth, then president of the Board of Directors, was very pleased with the increased activity at the museum. According to Illingworth, the traffic and revenues will allow the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame to operate on a 12-month basis and act as a magnet for off-season tourism. This is phenomenal considering the museum originally opened its doors on June 1, 2001 in a former church next to the Pyramid Bar at the opposite end of Main Street. Pyramid owners Gene and Nancy Flagler graciously donated the space.
Bob Illingworth is no longer on the Board of Directors. As Bob said from the very beginning, "I'm here to help get it started, and in a year, after the museum is up and running, I'm retiring from the day to day operations as well as the board". Bob did just that, his help was invaluable. Bob still helps out as needed and is active in helping to promote the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum.
The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame, Inc. would like to thank the following sponsors whose generosity and faith in our endeavor enabled us to open our doors on June 1, 2001 and eventually make possible the move to our permanent location at the corner of Main and Junction in June 2002. We will be forever grateful.
The Museum moved to it present location at the corner of Main and Junction in June of 2002. It rotates exhibits quite often, featuring national and international marquees. While there are many who have been totally committed to motorcycling, there are also those rare individuals who have worked tirelessly to protect the rights of motorcyclists everywhere. Our goal is to show our respect and acknowledge their incredible contributions by establishing a permanent register in the Museum.
1949 EL Hydra Glide This fine piece of motorcycle history comes to us from Jerry and Trudi Richards from Shoreview Minnesota. It is an unrestored 1949 Harley Davidson EL. Nineteen forty-nine was the second year of the venerable “Panhead” which, at that time, was still available in both the 61 c.i. EL and the 74 c.i. FL. Although the smaller EL's are more difficult to find today, FL's were more popular in their day. This was the first year for a few things that we, as present day riders, take for granted, like hydraulic dampening front forks.
Yes 1949 was the birth of the “Hydra Glide”. Although still a rigid frame, the handling improvement over the previous leading link front end (springer) was tremendous. Also new for '49 were rubber mounted handlebars, which greatly reduce the vibration to the rider. Handlebars were made adjustable. Previously all handlebars were solidly mounted and the front brake drum was made 34% larger for greater stopping power.
Nineteen forty-nine was very important. This was the year Harley-Davidson introduced to the world the unique look that we, as bikers, see in our minds eye when we think of a road cruiser. You know, those massive front forks covered in chrome, the big airflow fenders and balloon tires. The hand shift and foot clutch would still be around for a few more years but, they too, would soon be gone.
So, summing up, I'd like to say to Jerry and Trudi Richards, thank you so much for the privilege of seeing this important part of motorcycle history on display at the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame.
In South Dakota, vacation fun is not virtual. It’s reality. You’ll discover authentic, hands-on experiences that make your trip one-of-a-kind. Browse our Web site to create your ideal getaway, whether you’re into family fun, Western adventure, Plains Indian culture, or the extreme outdoors.
For 60 years this town has been known as the motorcycle capital of the United States - and not for manufacturing. It is a gathering place of classic and modern bike owners who ride into Sturgis every August to rally, race, trade Harley-Davidson parts and party. South Dakota's biggest (and loudest) event draws hundreds of thousands of people every year to Sturgis.