Why would someone create something called the Golden Age of Trucking Museum? Because, said its late founder Richard Geurrera, “People love trucks.”
In late September, the Geurrera family officially opened the doors of the Middlebury, Conn., museum, which is a showcase of restored classic trucks from Richard Geurrera’s own collection. For one of the vintage vehicles, he searched endless junks yards for more than 30 years in order to find parts to rebuild it.
Six of the 23 trucks on show are from private collectors, the rest come from Geurrera’s passion. The emphasis is on vehicles from the 1950s, when Geurrera, then just 15, fell in love with trucks.
“In the 1950s there was a certain charisma to these machines,” said Geurrera. “The trucks of the ’50s had souls, they were alive. They had a different look to them and a different sound.”
Down the museum’s Diamond T Boulevard, the family has displayed a red 1952 Cummins diesel-powered Diamond T 950 RS that they say is the largest Class 8 vehicle built for on-highway use. According to the museum, less than 80 of these vehicles were built. Today, two of the remaining dozen or so, only perhaps half of which are still in working order, are in this collection.
One major hit at the museum is a big blue 1955 International Harvester, a model rarely seen in the Northeast, says the museum. Geurrera found this one in Sacramento, Calif., in 1990. He trailered the tractor back to Connecticut where he restored it to its original condition. It stands on the museum’s International Circle.
One of the museum’s real heavyweights is this Cummins-powered 1952 Diamond T 950 RS.
There is also a set of Dodge trucks from the 1930s through the 1950s on display at the museum. Naturally, they are parked on Dodge Drive. The museum’s streets include Mack Lane and GMC Avenue.
Geurrera was the president and CEO of R.J. Geurrera, Inc., a liquid transportation company now based in Beacon Falls, Conn. It was a business he started in 1968 with a single truck (that he found in California, went out and drove back) and built into a fleet working throughout New England.
Frances Geurrera remembers that her husband “sold everything we had” to buy that truck. With the growth of his company came a similar growth in his collection of classic old trucks, many of which he took to truck shows and other transportation exhibits across the country.
He planned the museum as the culmination of his passion. He formed the non-profit operating structure in 1998, appointed a board of directors and began looking for a home. But in 1999 Geurrera was fighting cancer. Just three months before his death, Geurrera and his family held an informal groundbreaking at the future home of his museum. It was Father’s Day.
“The time spent with Dick collecting and researching the collection was a very important part of our life together,” says his widow Frances.
The Golden Age of Trucking Museum is on Route 188, half a mile from exit 16 of I-84 (take a right off the exit ramp). Adult admission is $8. It is open Mondays and Thursdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m to 4 p.m., and on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Or you can visit on the Internet at www.goldenagetruckmuseum.com.