There’s lots to be said for the roadside attractions that litter the I-90 route through South Dakota, both good and bad. There’s lots of trinket-filled convenience stores, theme diners, and my personal “favourite”–the combination gas station/fireworks superstore managed by a talkative chain smoking veteran. Are you feelin’ lucky and/or lookin’ for a deal on bottle rockets, punk?
Of course, any self respecting gearhead would only make one stop mandatory: The Pioneer Auto Show, in Murdo South Dakota. Featuring over 275 cars, 60 motorcycles, tractors, antiques, and an entire small town main street, the museum is an epicentre of all that is epic in the automotive universe.
Situated in sleepy Murdo, South Dakota, the museum was opened by a cigar-chomping entrepreneur by the name of A.J. “Dick” Geisler. Dick ran several businesses across the country, from a feed/hardware store in California to a combo Chevy/John Deere dealer in South Dakota. Eventually, it all lead to the opening of a Phillips 66 station, populated with rare and unusual cars parked around the station. The strange rides might have been derelict, but they attracted customers nonetheless-customers that would have otherwise gone to a different gas station.
The Geisler family started collecting more and more cars, in an effort to attract more and more customers. By 1954, there were so many rides filling the property that Dick and his sons, Dave and John, needed a real museum to show off their rare collection.
Today, the little roadside attraction that could isn’t so little anymore. Hundreds of rare and famous cars, such as one of the last original Dukes of Hazard cars, fill several buildings-some of which are notable in and of themselves. The newest structure to grace the Pioneer Auto Show’s grounds will be the WNAX Oasis gas station, formerly of nearby Vivian, S.D. This little fueling shack was originally built in 1913, going through a succession of owners before it landed in the (simulated) Town that Dick Built. Although it’s primarily for display purposes, the washrooms will be made functional and brought up to modern standards.
I-90 through South Dakota may not be considered hallowed ground for auto-worshippers. A straight line over a flat prairie, crawling with Highway Patrol, might not get your blood pumping. But thanks to the Pioneer Auto Show, this great open space may hold at least one glimmer of heaven on earth for the car loving set.
Direct from Mother Russia, it’s a Trabbant Wagon! In Communist Russia, it was common to wait ten years to take delivery of a new car, followed by a lifetime of wondering why you waited ten years for this piece of sh**.