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MyWikiBiz Elkhart grew from the crossroads of several American Indian trails to a bustling junction of major railways in the mid-1800s. Small industries lured by the combined water power of the St. Joseph and Elkhart rivers began relocating to Elkhart in the late 1800s.
The town, now a prominent center of diversified manufacturing, produces more than 50 percent of the nation's band instruments. Other products include pharmaceuticals; plastics machinery, mechanical rubber, firefighting equipment and recreational vehicles.
Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau: 219 Caravan Dr., Elkhart, IN 46514; phone (219) 262-8161 or (800) 262-8161. See ad p. 141.
Self-guiding tours: Materials for driving and bicycling tours are available at the convention and visitors bureau.
MIDWEST MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART, 429 S. Main St., presents a permanent collection of American paintings, prints, drawings, watercolors, sculpture and photographs spanning 150 years. Particularly of note are works by Alexander Calder, Grandma Moses and Norman Rockwell. The gallery is in a bank building that has been restored, also sponsors changing multimedia art exhibits. Audiotape tours are available. Allow 1 hour minimum. Tues.-Fri. 11-5, Sat.Sun. 1-4; closed holidays. Admission $3; over 62, $2; students with ID $1; free to all Sun. Phone (219) 293-6660.
NATIONAL NEW YORK CENTRAL RAILROAD MUSEUM, 721 S. Main St., houses two 1915 rail coaches, a loading dock built in the 1880s, a stationmaster's office, a scale model of a New York Central Mohawk steam locomotive and more than 10,000 photographs and papers. Several locomotives and rail cars are displayed on the grounds. In addition, a viewing room shows railroad films. Audiotape tours are available. Allow 1 hour minimum. Tues.-Fri. 10-2, Sat. 10-4, Sun. noon-4; closed holidays. Admission $2; over 54 and ages 6-14, $1. Phone (219) 294-3001.
OLD WAKARUSA RAILROAD is 10 mi. s. on SR 19 at Maplewood Dr. Open-sided sightseeing cars, steam powered by a one-third scale replica of an 1862 locomotive, are used for a 1.5~mile ride over a completely hand-laid railway. The tracks wind over low hills, curve around a small lake, overlook farmland, intersect with a street, pass through a l00-foot tunnel and cross over and under handmade trestles. Allow 30 minutes minimum. Trains depart every 30 minutes Mon.Sat. ll-dusk, Apr.-Dec. Fare $4, under 4 free. Phone (219) 862-2136.
RUTHMERE MUSEUM, .5 mi. n.e. on SR 19 at 302 E. Beardsley Ave., is a magnificent Beaux-arts mansion erected in 1908 for A.R. Beardsley, one of the founders of Miles Laboratories Inc. Restored velvet and silk wall coverings and elaborately painted ceilings distinguish the interior; the exterior is highlighted by a wraparound marble veranda. The mansion, furnished in the luxurious style of the period, includes some original furnishings.
In addition, the house contains three Tiffany lamps, an extensive art collection and china from the administrations of Presidents Hayes, Jackson and Harding. A 1915 Choralcelo piano-organ, which can be played manually or with player rolls, is heard as a piano in some rooms and as an organ in others, thanks to banks of organ pipes. An audiotape tour is available. A guided house tour, preceded by a slide show, includes the attached greenhouse and garage; the latter contains three classic cars in working order. Allow 1 hour minimum. Tours are given Tues.-Sat. at 11, 1 and 3 (also Sun. at 3, July-Aug.), first Tues. in Apr. to mid-Dec.; closed Thanksgiving. Admission $5; over 62, $4; students with ID $3; under 5 free. Phone (219) 264-0330.
S. RAY MILLER ANTIQUE AUTO MUSEUM, 2130 Middlebury St., contains 40 restored cars, many of which are the last of their kind. Included in the collection is a 1930 Duesenberg "J" Murphy Convertible once owned by Jake "The Barber" Factor, Al Capone's lawyer. Also on display are a 1932 Nash Advanced Series Victoria and a 1903 Ford Runabout. The museum also contains a collection of vintage clothing and memorabilia from the eras dominated by the types of automobiles found in the museum. An audiotape tour is available. Allow 1 hour minimum. Mon.-Fri. 10-4, also last complete weekend of the month noon-4. Phone for holiday hours. Admission $4; over 62 and ages 7-18, $3. Phone (219) 522-0539. MyWikiBiz