1957 Chevrolet, Museum of Automobiles,
Petit Jean Mountain, near Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas, July 3, 2005
In 1970 or 1972, I had a red 1957 Chevrolet, similar to this one, but not in any way close to the same condition, I don’t remember how much it cost or even where I got it, but I’m pretty sure I was its last driver. I drove it for a few months until it broke down with structural failure where the front suspension connected to the frame. I think I got $50 for it from the junk yard that it was towed to.
Museum of Automobiles (Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture)
The Museum of Automobiles is located atop Petit Jean Mountain in Conway County. This museum is primarily dedicated to the exhibition of quality antique and vintage automobiles, as well as related items for the cultural and educational benefit of the general public. Additional exhibits include an antique gun collection, a display of Arkansas license plates, and a player piano.
When Winthrop Rockefeller made Arkansas his home in 1953, he developed Winrock Farms on Petit Jean Mountain. In 1961, he purchased a collection of fine antique and classic cars from the James Melton museum of Hypoluxo, Florida. He had a building constructed on Petit Jean Mountain to house the cars and named it the Museum of Automobiles. He opened the museum on October 18, 1964, with thirty-three cars on display, some of them his own, along with others from the Rockefeller family.
Rockefeller died on February 22, 1973, after serving two terms as governor. On March 4, 1973, over 4,000 people gathered at the museum for a memorial service in his honor. The museum was closed in the fall of 1975, and the remaining cars, with the exception of the governor’s personal vehicles, were sold to Harrah’s Museum in Reno, Nevada. The 1951 Cadillac that Rockefeller drove to Arkansas when he made the state his home, his 1967 Cadillac limousine with a Santa Gertrudis bull sterling-silver hood ornament, and his 1914 Cretors popcorn wagon all remain in the present museum collection.
On June 6, 1976, the museum was reopened by ten men, all Arkansans and antique car buffs; on June 16, 1976, they formed a nonprofit organization that leased the building from the state of Arkansas. This group became the board of directors, which manages the museum.