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The Iron Elite

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By Zack Zupke
Creative Services Manager
VISIT Milwaukee

The Iron Elite. Soldiers and veterans. Business owners. Everyday Joes. Everyday Janes. They’re all Harley riders sharing a common enthusiasm for the ride. And they’re all African Americans. Because of that, they haven’t always been able to share their stories alongside other Harley enthusiasts due to segregation and other forms of discrimination. Now, they’re being heard. Now, they’re right there next to every other rider at the Harley-Davidson Museum in the “Journey of the Iron Elite.”

As a portion of the exhibit explains, “African American riders have a long and proud heritage and continue to make important contributions to the sport and culture of motorcycling. With the help of numerous individuals and clubs, the Harley-Davidson Museum is kicking off a concerted effort to bring these stories, and the objects that tell them all, to the surface.”

On the surface, they look like every other Harley rider. Then you dig a little deeper, read their stories and find they’re much more than men and women on motorcycles. They’re history. Pee Wee and the LA Defiant Ones club in California. William B. Johnson, a mechanic who became the first African American Harley-Davidson dealer known to date. Bike builder Sugar Bear and his “if it ain’t long, it’s wrong” mantra.

World wars to world-renown designs, African American riders have stories to tell, perhaps more so than any other riders. Harley enthusiast or not, you’ll be a human enthusiast after a visit to the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee to see and hear the “Journey of the Iron Elite.”


Harley-Davidson Museum
400 W. Canal St.


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Bucyrus Museum Unearthed: South Milwaukee’s Hidden Gem

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by Guest Blogger Julie Henning, Road Trips for Families

As the dust settles on the acquisition of Bucyrus International, Inc. by Caterpillar Inc. in July 2011, Caterpillar has recognized the historical influence of Bucyrus both in the community and the mining equipment industry. The result is an 18,000 square foot, three-story, free museum in the South Milwaukee campus. 

“We’re proud of our company’s history and the museum serves to preserve it. We’re also promoting the mining industry, the equipment used in the mining industry, and connecting with the local community,” explained Paul Johnson, Program Manager of the Visitor Center, Caterpillar Mining Sales and Support Division.

Featuring multimedia exhibits, vintage company memorabilia, scale models, and life-size replicas of machine parts, the museum is open to the general public from 10AM-3PM Monday through Thursday, 7AM-3PM on Friday, and 10AM-3PM the third Saturday of the month.

“We get visitors from all over,” Johnson explained, “but, for now, the majority is coming from somewhere in Southeast Wisconsin. Certainly we count a large part our interested audience as people who are restoring historical equipment or just have an interest in it.”

Popular exhibits at Bucyrus include a 495 shovel cab simulator, life-sized replica of a shovel dipper, and digger/dumper play area for younger visitors located on the main level. Johnson added “We do find that the simulator and some of the interactive exhibits downstairs do hold the attention of the younger visitors. But, once we start explaining the historical connection of the models, we find visitors are more engaged.”

As an example, a scale-model of the steam-powered shovels used in the Panama Canal project is showcased on the second floor. “The equipment used in the Panama Canal was made right here in Milwaukee. A lot of people don’t know always know that connection right off the bat, but the project was one of the largest earth moving projects in the world’s history,” Johnson explained.

Against a backdrop of framed cover pages of SCOOP Magazine; an internal Bucyrus-Erie employee publication, the museum’s third floor holds a more open floor plan. Home of the Tim Sullivan library, historical machine drawings, comfortable seating areas encourage research and relaxation. “Bucyrus used to have their own fire brigade on site. We do have some of the old equipment in one corner of the top floor if kids want to try it on,” Johnson said.

Individuals planning a visit to Bucyrus during the week are invited to dine in the Caterpillar company cafeteria, as well as peruse the company gift shop. Arranged in advance and on a limited basis are Caterpillar company tours. Johnson added, “To get young people interested in engineering, skilled trades, and the jobs that support what we do, we do offer tours for some trade associations, school groups and classes that are related to our business.”

In development is the museum website as well as a historical video to be viewed in the museum theater space.

Julie Henning is an editor with the travel website, Road Trips for Families. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin and is Travel Mom Julie with Bucyrus has been added to her iPhone application geared towards Milwaukee families.

Bucyrus Museum
Heritage Building at Caterpillar's South Milwaukee campus
1970 10th Ave.
South Milwaukee, WI 53172


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Help us beat St. Louis before Opening Day

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By Bill Prange
Web Marketing Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee

You may have heard through Facebook, Twitter or this blog that Milwaukee is in the running to host the 2012 Social Media Tourism Symposium. Each city that is being considered as a host is matched up versus another city, and whichever destination gets the most votes from the public advances to the next round of voting.

Last week we won our first round of voting against Lehigh Valley, PA. Now we're up against St. Louis. This is our chance to get some revenge for the Cardinals knocking the Brewers out of the playoffs last year! Let's beat them before they arrive on Friday for Opening Day!

Voting is open today through tomorrow (Tuesday) at 10:59 p.m. The voting is done through Facebook, but you do not need a Facebook account to cast a vote. You can vote once per device, so vote from work, home and your mobile phone.

After you've voted, make sure to tell everyone you know to support Milwaukee and vote! If we win, our final voting round will take place next week Wednesday and Thursday, April 11-12.

Thank you for voting and supporting Milwaukee!


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