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Antique Road Trip

Travel Back in Time at the Salty Dog Museum

The Salty Dog Museum may sound like a Carolina beach stop, but it’s actually an antique car museum like no other, located just on the other side of Butler County in the small town of Shandon. A showcase of Model Ts, Model As, race cars, motorcycles and fire trucks, the museum boasts two sprawling galleries full of beautifully restored vehicles. 

Co-owners Mark Radtke and Ron Miller share a love of cars and racing that intersected at the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah, where together they won world records in the land speed race in 2008, 2010 and 2012 in a purpose-built car. The museum name, “Salty Dog,” is a nod to those world-famous racing grounds. 

Mark and Ron opened the museum in 2008 to share their personal collections with the public, an opportunity to preserve history and bring together others that enjoy vintage vehicles. 

Visitors are greeted by a personal docent, sometimes Mark himself, who shares transportation history and interesting anecdotes. Pass through the lobby, lined with display cases filled with antique auto paraphernalia like hood ornaments, gas caps and emblems. Rows of gleaming vintage hoods sparkle in the showroom, each a functioning car with a story. 

“Our collection shows the evolution from horsedrawn to Henry Ford,” says Mark. 

“We enjoy the cars and the people who come to see them,” says B.J. Miller, son of Co-Owner Ron Miller who is in the family business of vehicle restoration.

Just past the rows of early vehicles is a collection of hot rods, race cars, motorcycles and camping trailers. 

“B.J. and his wife got married in 2006 and they pulled a camper behind a powder blue Model A—they hauled it up to Canada for their honeymoon for two weeks,” Mark says. 

The trailer is on display, setting the scene of a 1950s campsite. 

A second gallery is dedicated to firetrucks and firefighting equipment. The oldest fire truck on display dates to 1902. Mark demonstrates its foot-pedal gong that rang as a call to neighbors to assemble the bucket brigade. Many of the trucks took years to piece together. 

“The first one I brought here was out of a children's shoe store in Tri-County Mall, back in 1984. It took me 20 years to restore it,” Mark shares. 

Many of the trucks have been donated to this nonprofit museum that restores them with care to their original state of candy-apple red with polished chrome parts. 

Peek into the adjacent workshop to see where the real magic happens: a crew of mechanics have a meeting under an open hood of the latest restoration project. They rebuild the vehicles and their engines onsite at Ron’s Machine Shop. 

Schedule a road trip to the Salty Dog Museum this summer, a view into transportation history that won’t disappoint. 

The Salty Dog Museum is open to the public on Thursdays and Saturdays by appointment only, at a suggested donation of $7 per person. 

The Salty Dog Museum | 4985 Cincinnati Brookville Road, Shandon, OH 45063

513.265.8750

SaltyDogMuseum.com

Old Fashioned Strawberry Festival – June 10

Visit Shandon for this annual event featuring arts, crafts, antiques, strawberry treats, live music and a tractor parade. Salty Dog will be open for a car show. 

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