Where Gumbo Was #393
In addition to the famous caverns, Luray hosts a number of museums and historic sites. The Car and Carriage Caravan Museum is my personal favorite and boasts one of the country’s oldest transportation museums. Admission is included with the purchase of a general admission ticket at the cavern’s booth, which also includes admission to the Antique Toy Museum, Shenandoah Heritage Village, and the Luray Valley Museum. All of which are only a few steps from the cavern’s entrance and the adjacent free parking area.
Professor Abe was the only one to recognize the site in our puzzle. Congrats!
Back in the 1950’s, H.T.N. Graves, president of Luray Caverns Corporation set out to create this museum by finding and purchasing vehicles of aesthetic beauty and cultural significance. He and his staff worked tirelessly to get the vehicles in pristine and operable condition. Most all of these vehicles are currently operable.
Upon entering, I was overwhelmed by the gorgeous condition of all the vehicles and other items on display and how they got so many vehicles crammed in this building. There are too many to display in this blog, so I will try to focus on the interesting and unusual vehicles. The first item encountered is the 1927 Portuguese Nobility Carriage which was built in France for the Royal House of Portugal. This Berlin Coupe de Gala is the oldest carriage on display in the western hemisphere.
Up next was an 1890 baby buggy, a rare 1890 7-passenger sleigh (most were 3 or 5 passenger models), some unusual bicycles, and a 1900 Surrey Spider which was famously celebrated in the song "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top" from the musical Oklahoma!.
The 1908 Delaunay Belleville Town Car was custom-made in Saint Denis, France with mahogany coach work and leather fenders specifically for Baron Rosenkratz.
The 1906 Double Tulip Touring Cadillac was very popular at its time even with only a 1-cylinder, 7 horse-power engine. The 1908 Baker Electric was popular with women because it was very smooth and quiet. During WWII, they were used when gas rationing occurred.
And the 1912 Metz Roadster that had a “mother-in-law seat” in the back. The 1913 Stanley Steamer had a wood frame and handmade aluminum body with a boiler that was wrapped in piano wire to help prevent explosions.
A few early Ford Model T trucks were the 1912 Humpback Delivery Truck and the 1914 Milk Truck which was the last year Ford used gas lamps.
The 1932 Rolls-Royce Shooting Brake (title image) is a real beauty and the only one produced in 1932. It was considered a “gentlemen’s hunting wagon” and the coach was made with Honduran and African mahogany. The term “shooting brake” was used to describe sleek luxury vehicles that carried hunting (shooting) parties with their equipment and game.
Considered a real beast for its time was the 1928 Mercedes-Benz Model S Tourenwagen. It was one of the heaviest and most powerful (220hp supercharged engine) vehicles on the road. It was designed by Ferdinand Porsche and built by Daimler-Benz. The three pointed star on the hood ornament and company logo represented the use of Daimler engines on land, sea and in the air.
The 1923 Willys-Knight Country Club Phaeton was the predecessor of the famous Jeep. A phaeton was a term used in the late 18th and early 19th century for sporty open carriages.
The 1925 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Town Car was ordered by the silent screen star Rudolph Valentino, who never took possession since he passed away in 1926. The intentionally alligatored paint was to give the impression of a leather covered body.
The Cord is one of my all-time favorite classic cars, and this green 1930 L-29 Phaeton was a real gem.
Then we have a 1931 Pierce-Arrow Convertible Sedan in original condition, a 1927 Bugatti, and a beautiful gleaming 1927 Hispano-Suiza Drophead Coupe created for the 1935 Paris Motor Show. It was trimmed on the exterior with German silver and on the interior with pig skin and lizard skin. There are many more vehicles and carriages to see in this museum.
The town of Luray is located in Page County which was named for John Page, Governor of Virginia from 1802 to 1805 who was a friend and closest college classmate of Thomas Jefferson. The town was started by Willian Staige Marye in 1812, a descendant of a family native to Luray, France.
Bus and taxi combined, or private / rental car seem to be the modes of travel to get to Luray from Washington DC which is about 90 miles away. Luray is located in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with many other attractions nearby. Adventures such as horseback riding, river canoeing, and wilderness camping are plentiful. Local vineyards conduct wine tasting. Luray borders the Shenandoah National Park which has many more natural sites and attractions for the entire active family.
The address to enter into your navigation GPS is … Luray Caverns, 101 Cave Hill Road, Luray, Virginia 22835.
General Admission includes Luray Caverns, the Car & Carriage Caravan Museum, Toy Town Junction, and the Shenandoah Heritage Village. Prices are Adults $30, Seniors $27 and Children (6-12) $15 and under 6 is free. Cameras are allowed in all museums and the caverns. There is a wide variety of ticket discounts and you can get your ticket sent to your phone to show at the entrance without printing it. You can check the discounts here https://luraycaverns.com/visit-us/