When you think of important motorcycle museums, it’s difficult to not immediately think of Dale’s Wheels Through Time. While there are plenty of great museums in the world, Wheels Through Time stands out because it is, as its tagline reads, “the Museum That Runs.” Want to see an extremely rare Crocker Big Twin do a burnout? Here you go.
You see, founder Dale Walksler made running a requirement of every single vehicle on display. If you didn’t get the chance to witness a running fill-in-the-blank in person, chances are excellent that there’s a YouTube video around, just waiting for you to find it. In search of a running 1916 Harley-Davidson J model with a one-of-a-kind double-wide sidecar setup, you say? Not a problem.
Sadly, Dale Walksler died on February 3, 2021, after a four-year battle with cancer. He passed peacefully in his home with his wife by his side. Family, friends, community members, and a worldwide community of motorcycle and automotive enthusiasts all mourn his passing.
According to a memorial post on the Wheels Through Time Facebook page, Walksler built his very first motorcycle in 1967, when he was just 15 years old. By the age of 22, he opened a Harley-Davidson franchise in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. As his business grew more successful, he was able to fuel his lifelong passion with motorcycles. He was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 2019.
Building up a collection like Walksler’s isn’t something you do overnight. Still, as any mechanical treasure hunter knows, sometimes it’s the thrill of the hunt that keeps you going. Eventually, Walksler opened the Wheels Through Time museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina in 2002. From there, the museum’s reputation blossomed, welcoming visitors from all over the world to a true one-of-a-kind experience.
Walksler was the kind of person who loved to give back to his community, too. In addition to being a major tourist draw for the Maggie Valley community, he regularly participated in events that benefited local veterans and needy children. He would often raffle off vintage motorcycles to raise money to help his local community.
It wasn’t just about grand gestures, though. Walksler was the kind of guy who was happy to give kids rides on his motorcycles in his parking lot, according to local paper the Mountaineer. Truly, it’s what you do every day that matters most.
Dale Walksler is survived by his family, friends, and a worldwide community who appreciated the passion and determination he brought to sharing his collection with the world. A celebration of his life will be planned at a later date. For the time being, the family asks that in lieu of flowers, interested parties should please send donations and condolences to Wheels Through Time, PO Box 790, Maggie Valley, NC, 28751. All donations received will go toward museum funding for generations to come.