The moment that you walk into this out-of-the-way museum, you’re confronted by a huge, flashing Coca-Cola sign above a Coca-Cola bar that has been preserved from the World’s Fair held in Chicago.
The tour of the Schmidt Museum of Coca-Cola Memorabilia can be self-led or given by one of the informed guides always available on the premises. Regardless of how you decide to wander the halls of this 32,000-square-foot building, you’ll encounter the tons of interesting trinkets packed inside - advertising materials, historic soft drink bottles, and more. This is the world’s largest collection of Coke-related items not held by the company itself.
First opened to the public in 1977, the Schmidt Museum grew out of an obsession with Coca-Cola. After opening the third Elizabethtown Coca-Cola Bottling Plant in 1971, Bill and his wife Jan began to collect antiques to decorate the office space. After five years, the couple had accumulated so many items that they were filling storage spaces. After a million visitors walked its halls, the first Schmidt Museum was closed in 1999 because of State safety regulation changes. It reopened in a new location two years later and finally moved to its current home in 2005 when the collection demanded more space.
After the tour, you can sign the guest book and see the names from people who have come from all over before heading to the gift shop which has both mass-produced items and some genuine antiques for sale. At the end of your time here, you can get a coke straight from the fountain for a nickel.
The museum was closed and most memorabilia was auctioned off in February of 2012. But there are many interesting things in the area to see. For instance, the “USED COWS FOR SALE” sign approx. 10 miles south of Elizabethtown along I-65. Or the cannonball embedded in the side of a buidling on the courthouse square in downtown Elizabethtown. For directions to the tourist center (just down the street from the now defunct Coke museum), see below.
Know Before You Go
I-65 exit 94 onto Hwy 62. Two blocks to light. The tourist center is just after the light on the right (before you go under the bridge).