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Hickory Corners – Did you know that 1968 and ’69 are considered by many historians as two of the most tumultuous yet significant years in history? Or that the first real advocates for good roads weren’t drivers of automobile but bicyclists during the 1880s? Or have you ever wondered what really made Henry Ford famous?

This photo shows an EMF 30 Touring Car, outfitted with tire chains, and four men working with ropes, attempting to get it unstuck from a typical muddy road, circa 1909. Historian Jim Craft will speak at the Museum about “The Good Roads Movement,” which was championed not by motorist but by bicyclist in the late 1880s.Photo: Gilmore Car Museum


During the Gilmore Car Museum’s Speaker Series beginning on Sunday, January 13th you’ll discover answers to these questions and more. The 15-week series will reveal fascinating stories and little-known facts on a variety of subjects and is open to the public.

“We have brought together a fine group of historians, scholars and authors—all experts in their respective fields,” explains Fred Colgren, Education Director at the Museum. “There’s certain to be something of interest for everyone.”

Each of the Sunday afternoon presentations begin at 3 pm and are only $5 each per person, or FREE with regular Museum admission and memberships. The lectures last about an hour and are appropriate for all ages.  Guests are encouraged to attend all of those that interest them, as no registration is required, and walk-ins are welcome.

The Reverend Martin Luther King is seen here giving his famous “I have a Dream” Speech at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC in 1963. King became the most active and visible leader of the Civil Rights movement until his assassination in April 1968. Local author, Tony Ettwein, will take a close look at 1968 and ’69, two of the most tumultuous years in history, during his January 13 presentation. Photo: Smithsonian Institution / B. Adelman


The first presentation of the series will be “1968 – ’69:  Looking Back Half a Century” presented by historian and local author Tony Ettwein on Sunday, January 13th at 3pm at the Gilmore Car Museum.

The program will provide a snapshot of 1968 and 1969 which were marked by two shocking assassinations, the first live-televised broadcasts of violent protests and the first moon landing, as well as the debuts of the Lava Lamp and the first ATM.

The story of the RMS Titanic is well-known: the maiden voyage of the famed “unsinkable” ship ended in disaster in April 1912 when it struck an iceberg and sank. The amazing, yet little-known stories of Michigan passengers aboard the famous liner is just one of several varied topics that will be covered as part of the Gilmore Car Museum’s 2019 Sunday Speaker Series that begins on January 13 and runs for several weeks.Photo: Library of Congress


The Gilmore Speaker Series continues weekly with topics as varied as Henry Ford, Rosa Parks and Michigan passengers onboard the RMS Titanic. Visitors will learn fascinating facts and hear little-known stories at each presentation.

Additional topics will include the historic Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild—a competition of teenagers building scale model “dream cars” for college scholarships, how the famed Route 66 became known as America’s Main St. and Michigan’s role in the space race. Maybe you’re interested in driving Michigan sand dunes, learning about the farm steam threshers built in near-by Battle Creek or learning about hidden “barn finds.” There is certainly something of interest for all!

The Gilmore Speaker Series begins Sunday, January 13th at 3pm at the Gilmore Car Museum and continues for several consecutive weeks (excluding Easter Sunday):

  • January 13, 2019
    “1968 – 69: Looking Back Half A Century”
    Tony Ettwein, Author and Historian

  • January 20, 2019
    “The Men That Made Henry Ford Famous”
    Don LaCombe, Automotive Historian

  • January 27, 2019
    “The Good Roads Movement”
    Jim Craft, Author and Historian

  • February 3, 2019
    “The Bradford Model T Girls”
    John Butte, Author and Collector

  • February 10, 2019
    “Built in Battle Creek:
    Threshers and Steam Traction Engines”
    Robb Gillespie, Historian

  • February 17, 2019
    “Profiles in Citizenship: A Portrait Of Henry Knox and Rosa Parks”
    Cameron Brown, Former State Senator

  • February 24, 2019
    “Barn Finds: Automotive Archaeology”
    Ryan Brutt, Automotive Archaeologist and Author

  • March 3, 2019
    “Concept and Production”
    Patrick Schiavone, Director of Design Trucks, SUVs, CUVs
    (Retired) Ford Motor Company

  • March 10, 2019
    “When Rockets Flew from the Great Lakes State: Michigan’s Contributions to the Space Program”
    Glen Swanson, Historian

  • March 17, 2019
    TITANIC – Michigan Connections”
    Jay Follis, Author and Historian

  • March 24, 2019
    Designing a Museum Book: Beyond Content”
    David Lyon, Author and Historian

  • April 7, 2019
    “Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild: Modeling the Future”
    Paul Tatseos, Rich Ray, Dwight Conger and John Jacobus;
    Former FBCG Contestants

  • April 14, 2019
    “Riding Across the Sands of Time: Dune Rides, Dune Scootersm Dune Schooners, Dunesmobiles, and Dune Buggies”
    M. Christine Byron and Thomas R. Wilson, Authors and Historians

  • April 28, 2019
    “Route 66: Adventures, Stories and Photographs from Chicago to Santa Monica”
    John Lacko, Photo Journalist and Historian

Whether your interest is in learning about general history, the turbulent Vietnam War years or NASA you’re sure to find the Gilmore Speaker Series engaging, entertaining and informative for the entire family. The Gilmore Car Museum is located just 20 minutes north of Kalamazoo or 45 minutes south of Grand Rapids.

For more information on the Gilmore Speaker Series or other events, please visit or call (269) 671-5089.
6865 Hickory Road, Hickory Corners, MI 49060

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