Wilbur Wright Birthplace
On the right is the Wilbur Wright Birthplace and Museum, where Wilbur was born in 1867. Astronaut Eugene Cernan dedicated this home when it was reconstructed. The original house burned in 1884. Only the smokehouse is original. Once a state historic site, the property is now operated by a local group, which has done wonders to improve it. The home is furnished with period pieces. The only article connected with the Wright family is an apron that was worn by Wilbur's grandmother. The Wrights moved away when Wilbur reached the ripe old age of one.
The Wilbur Wright Birthplace is located in east central Indiana, a few miles east of New Castle
The highlight of the museum is a replica of the original Wright Flyer. Buford J. Gross of Peru, Indiana took ten years to build it. He used plans that were in the archives of the Smithsonian Museum. Although it has never flown, it was constructed to be flightworthy. There are only two deviations from the original plans. One change is the wing fabric, which is nylon since the Federal Aviation Administration would not approve the original cotton. The other change is the engine, which has a spark plug. The engine is set off to the right of the plane. It is counter-balanced by the weight of the operator, who lays prone on the left side of the plane. The mannequin is a likeness of Wilbur Wright, right down to the suit and tie, which the Wrights wore even when flying.
One of the saddest things you will ever read is the journal of Bishop Wright, Wilbur's father, during the last few weeks of Wilbur's life. You can see the father trying to convince himself that his son is getting better, until shortly before Wilbur's death.
There are markers on the property which show the distance traveled by the Wright Brothers on their first four flights of December 17, 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
- Orville flew 120 feet in 12 seconds
- Wilbur flew 175 feet
- Orville flew 200 feet
- Wilbur flew 852 feet in 59 seconds
The brothers were delighted with the last flight of the day, but Wilbur landed hard. The damage to the aircraft was relatively minor, but it was enough to end their flying for the day. Who would have dreamed that from these modest beginnings, mankind would go on to land on the moon just 66 years later?
Visiting the Site
The Wilbur Wright Birthplace is open for tours from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM Tuesday through Saturday, and 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM on Sundays. The big event each year occurs on the Friday & Saturday before Father's Day in June. There is a bean supper on Friday night and a pork chop dinner on Saturday. If the weather is good, Saturday also features a radio control air show.
While you're in the area, you may also want to visit the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, which is located just a few miles away in New Castle.