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Angels and Autos in Wisconsin

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By Wayne Lazarus on October 20th, 2010

Categories: Linda's Travel Articles

Historic Highway 51 travels north from Southern Louisiana across the country to North Wisconsin.  Beloit, just north of the state line from Illinois, is its entrance to Wisconsin.secret svc-1

That’s fitting, because Beloit has some interesting connections to the automobile. The speedometer was invented here. The creator of Turtle Wax, Ben Hirsch, visited Beloit for a sales call and wandered over to Turtle Creek to take a break. There he was inspired to re-name his product, then called “Plastone” to Turtle Wax.

And the Historic Auto Attractions museum is located here. Remember Johnny Cash’s rendition of One Piece at a Time about the auto worker who brought home parts to build his own Cadillac? Promoters had a car put together from the parts mentioned in the song, and you can see that car at the museum. Over 70 special interest cars are housed here, from the King of Siam’s 1928 Delage Limousine to the 1932 Studebaker that was used by Dillinger during the robbery of the Central National Bank in Greencastle, Indiana and the 1956 Cadillac Limousine used by the Secret Service during Kennedy’s administration. It was directly behind his car during the assassination in Dallas. The museum has plenty of other memorabilia from movie stars (Marilyn Monroe’s nightgown) to country stars to presidents. It is open on seven days a week Memorial Day through Labor Day, weekends through November, then closed during winter.

berg collectionBeloit also has the Angel Museum with, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest collection of angels in the world -  more than 12,000. It includes 500 of Oprah’s black angels and Joyce Berg’s collection of over 10,000 angels.

Another record you may notice on your drive in is yes, the world’s largest can of chili, found outside the Hormel plant on I-90/I-39. The area takes its history seriously too. It  is home to 23 Native American mounds. Among the tribes that lived here are the Winnebago. Also, the corn curl, which you’ll recognize as a Frito, was invented in this area.

Beloit is a pretty little town located about 50 miles north of Rockford, Ill. It’s along the Rock River corridor, which was used in the 19th century by fur trappers carrying their goods to market. The river runs right through the town, which was settled by French trapper and fur trader Joseph Thibeault. The Rock River Trail has recently been organized among the ten counties in Wisconsin and Illinois along the river corridor, allowing biking , hiking, kayaking and canoeing.

Photos courtesy VisitBeloit. Used with permission.

1 Comments Total

Ruth - October 28, 2010 at 2:33 am

Thanks for the wonderful article. The Angel Museum is one of the most unique experiences in this one-of-a-kind attraction. Come one and all to visit this amazing museum.

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