101 Things To Do: Elmer's Auto and Toy Museum in Fountain City, Wisconsin
If it has wheels, Elmer Duellman probably owns it.
For 56 years, he and wife Bernadette have collected race cars, muscle cars, delivery trucks, station wagons, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, high wheel bikes, snowmobiles, wagons, pedal cars and a host of antique dolls, toys, and tools. The collection was private for the first 30 years, and 2019 is the 26th season open to the public.
"I don't know of any other place like this," Elmer said. "You won't find two of anything here. Most of this is one-of-a-kind."
Elmer's Auto and Toy Museum spreads across the top of Eagle Bluff outside Fountain City, offering excellent views of the Mississippi River. His collection fills five buildings and visitors could spend an hour or a day looking at everything on display.
Three large metal buildings house most of the cars and motorcycles. Each car has a sign identifying the make, model, and year, as well as anything unique about the car. Many of Elmer's cars have extremely low mileage and several are rare finds.
The original barn now houses rooms of antique tools and features shelves of wagons, tricycles, and other toys rising up toward the rafters. A smaller building next to the barn is home to thousands of toys, marbles, magazines, cap guns and more.
"I never started out to make a collection this big," Elmer said. "I always liked cars and motorcycles. As I would get some money, I would buy another one, and it just added up over the years. This is more than I ever thought would happen."
Melissa Baker, daughter of Elmer and Bernadette, grew up on the property and watched the collection increase each year. She said several volunteers show up each weekend the museum is open to answer questions and help visitors.
She said the collection represents a wide span of history, but she added that many of the pieces also have a family story behind them. For example, Elmer and Bernadette drove one car while they were dating. After they got married, they sold it, but then decided they wanted it back. It took seven years, but they finally bought it back and added it to the collection.
The collection is constantly in motion, according to Baker. "Every year we add things, change things, move things around."
If you go...
Elmer's Auto and Toy Museum
Address: W903 Elmer's Road, Fountain City, Wis.
Hours: Opens 11 weekends during the 2019 season. See website for exact dates. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on scheduled dates.
Admission: Adults $10. Seniors 65+ $8. Students 6-17 $5.