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CMU museum to receive 1920 Transport Truck as largest donated artifact

MST and CRM students prepare the 1920 Transport Truck that will be donated to the Museum of Cultural and Natural History on Monday, Sept. 18.

The Museum of Cultural and Natural History in Rowe Hall will accept its largest donated artifact at 4 p.m. Sept. 18 at Fabiano Botanical Garden. 

The 1920 Transport Truck was donated to the museum by Mount Pleasant business owner Sam Staples. 

Staples’ interest in the automobile peaked after purchasing the Mount Pleasant Commerce Center at 711 W. Pickard Road. The site was the location for Transport Truck Company from 1918-25. The company was the only automobile company in Mount Pleasant and a place for students to work in the early years of engineering, mechanism and restoration. 

Jay Martin, director of the museum and associate professor of history, said the Transport Truck is an icon of the community. 

“We’ve seen pictures of it in front of CMU buildings,” Martin said, adding the vehicle was once a frequent sight across campus and in the community. 

Transport Trucks had been cleared out of the Commerce Center long prior to Staples’ purchase. This initiated Staples’ journey to returning one of the now-rare vehicles back to its home roots, Martin said. 

Staples’ search brought him to southern Michigan, where he bought one of three 1920 Transport Trucks left in existence. He believed the truck was an important part of Mount Pleasant history and it was important that it’d be returned, Martin said.

Staples donated the vehicle to the museum soon after its arrival in honor of CMU’s 125th anniversary.

The Transport Truck will now serve as a crucial education tool for students in the Museum Studies minor program, Martin said.

“The museum’s initial purpose is to serve as a laboratory for teaching the ins and outs of being in museum professions,” he said.

Martin said it is a crucial his students understand how to operate, display and use an antique automobile. 

“There are over 35,000 museums in the United States and at least a third of them have one or two automobiles in their collections,” Martin said. “Students will learn the means of preserving (the car) and maintaining it, along with working on ways of restoring it and operating it again.” 

Martin said the 97-year-old car will be driving into the ceremony on Monday, in what will also be in honor of the Transport Truck Company, which will soon be celebrating its 100th anniversary. 

“We are doing our work for making further reservations,” Martin said, adding students have been working on starting and tuning the truck. 

The ceremony will be followed by an ice cream social in the Bovee University Center. 


About Samantha Shriber

Samantha Shriber is a staff reporter at Central Michigan Life and is a Saint Clair Shores ...

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