Thunder on the Mother Road
There’s perhaps no better icon of adventure personified than Route 66. The “Mother Road” carries dense history and suggests boundless freedom, and that’s why it’s fitting for the Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum to stand on this legendary strand of asphalt.
The squat, brick building has been many things since it was built in the 1920s, and it took Jerry Ries and Gerald Tims more than two years to restore and transform it into the museum they’d long dreamed of.
The Seaba Station is a showcase of the modern age as well as a portal to the halcyon days of engine grease, ball bearings, and endless cruises through a brand new state not quite tamed. “Motorcycles have had a big part in our history,” Ries says. “Being on Route 66…the two tied together quite well.”
The museum opened in June and is located in Warwick, about a half-hour drive up Route 66 from Edmond. Ries and Tims have amassed more than 80 motorcycles for the display. More than 70 of the bikes belong to Tims. He owns close to 100 motorcycles total, and he has been collecting for about 25 years. “I’m just a motorcycle addict,” says the Bethany motorcycle shop owner.
The collection boasts a 1909 Triumph, a 1978 Harley-Davidson 250cc Motocross bike that’s never been used, a 1979 Triumph T-140 that is still in the crate, and a 1913 Pope board track racer. The oldest bike on display is a 1908 Indian. Some bikes are even signed by famous riders.
An Oklahoma Christian University graduate, Ries has been riding motorcycles since he was 13. The Pope bike, which is displayed on a banked, wooden race track segment, is his favorite type of motorcycle because of its uniqueness and its racing heritage.
“We have a wide variety and I think there’s something there that everybody would be interested in, even people who aren’t necessarily into motorcycles,” Ries says. The museum also displays old DX gas station memorabilia and machine shop relics. Antiques and a gift shop also add to Seaba Station’s appeal. Ries says he and Tims hope to add a restaurant soon.
The building was originally a gas station, built by John and Alice Seaba, then it became a machine shop until 1995, when it became an antique store. Ries helped Tims remodel his store at two locations, and they often talked about building a motorcycle museum. Tims kept his collection upstairs at his shop, where no one could see it. When Ries noticed the antique store was closed, it wasn’t a far leap to see the building as the place to make Tims’ collection visible to the public. “I always liked the building,” Ries says.
He called the realtor with no intention of buying the building — he just wanted to see what it looked like on the inside. It had more space than he expected, about 5,000 square feet, and suddenly it looked like a real option. “We bought this building and it worked out pretty neat, being on Route 66 and having the old gas station frontage,” says Ries, who did most of the renovation work himself. “The history of the building itself is what drew us to the building,” Tims says.
The Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum has enjoyed an influx of Route 66 travelers, many of them from overseas. “There is big European traffic up and down Route 66,” Tims says. From I-35 to Tulsa is one of the largest continual stretches of Route 66 and that makes the museum a prime destination, he says.
A series of breakfast ride-ins has drawn about 300 bikers each, and Ries and Tims plan to make the ride-ins a monthly occurrence in the warmer seasons. The museum is also available for group activities, poker runs, car shows, and club meetings. It has kitchen facilities and an outdoor grill.
Museum admission is free, but donations are accepted. In addition to monetary donations, Tims and Ries would appreciate donated antique gas station or DX items. Hours of operation are Monday, Tuesday, and
Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The museum is closed Wednesdays. If a group plans to be at the museum during closed hours, contact the owners to ask about special hours. For more information, visit www.seabastation.com.