Community encourged to participate in expansion
By Erik Buchinger
Four Wheel Drive/Seagrave will host a discussion Saturday, April 29 at Aster Assisted Living, followed by tours of its museums.
In addition to its old museum, FWD is in the process of expanding to another Clintonville location.
Marcia Olen said she is hoping to inform the public of the plans with what is happening with the two museums, as well as how the community can help.
“It’s not our project, it’s a community project,” Olen said. “We want to explain where the project is at this moment. A large number of people say they want to see what’s going on in the building, so we want to show them.”
Olen said attendees can walk around the museums, and people will be available to answer questions. (Scroll down to the bottom to see the day’s schedule.)
“A lot of help is needed to bring this to the shining light that we hope it will be,” Olen said. “We envision this as a place where it can be a place where people can come work on research for their PhDs, do research in terms of history of trucks in U.S. as well as the interest in joy of seeing what happened chronologically as the trucking industry has developed.”
Olen, the granddaughter of FWD’s founder Walter Olen in 1909, said she wanted to make sure the new museum remained in Clintonville.
“I think it’s vital for the history of Clintonville, and it’s important when you have something that is that worthy and that full of history to make it available to the population,” Olen said.
Olen said the FWD Museum was in need of expanding to promote a historic invention.
“We feel that it’s been kind of a light under a bushel and that there is a great deal for people to see,” Olen said. “We would like to get people into Clintonville to see where the four-wheel drive concept was invented.”
Olen said the number of vehicles in FWD’s possession have expanded significantly, which is why an expansion was necessary.
“We’ve gone from nine or 10 vehicles to 44 now,” Olen said. “That’s quite significant already. These come from a number of sources. Some of them have been purchased, but a majority have been loaned or donated to the FWD Museum.”
Olen said each of the vehicles on display hold significant historical value.
“All of them are very important and valuable with historical value,” Olen said. “There are some old ammunition carriers, and one is from 1916 or so that we used in World War I. Then more recently, one of them we now have a teracruzer where trucks can go over sand and get through terrain that was otherwise impossible to get through.”
Olen and Mark Thomas have been heavily involved with the museum, but it is their hope that the Clintonville community can keep it going in the future.
“Mark Thomas and I have been very active in trying to start this new chapter in the life of the museum,” Olen said. “We’ve been very active for the last three years, and it is our hope within 2-3 years we will not be as active and people in the Clintonville community will be running the whole thing. That’s the idea that it will be turned over to the citizens of the community, and there are already people in the community working hard on it.”
Olen said she is grateful for what the community has done to give the FWD Museum a chance to expand.
“I think we’re just grateful that we’re able to expand the possibilities for this museum to grow and become better known,” Olen said. “That’s what’s exciting to us. On our website, we’ve received comments and information from people all over the world, including Australia, Norway, England and many places in the U.S., so we’re hitting a core of interest to people.”
Olen said FWD is important to her with her relation to the founder, and it provides a great sense of pride to the community.
“Of course it’s important to me personally as the granddaughter of the founder of FWD, but I think it’s just as important to the community to be able to have information of FWD going forward and make it available to the community for the gear heads throughout U.S. and beyond,” Olen said. “I think the community can be very proud of it. There’s only one place in the world where four-wheel drive was invented, and it’s this little town. Think of all the vehicles and varieties that are driving based on FWD.”
FWD Museum Tour Info
What: FWD/Seagrave Museum Talk/Tours
Where: Aster Assisted Living Dining Area
When: Saturday, April 29
• 9:45 a.m.: Coffee
• 10 a.m.: Talk/questions
• 11 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. Tour both museums
Learn about and see firsthand the progress/possibilities/opportunities.