Harley-Davidson Museum opens exhibit featuring lost photos

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- They're photos that tell a story of the evolving Harley-Davidson Motorcycle just 12 years after the now world-renowned company got its start.

"'It's kind of almost like the Holy Grail thing suddenly here's a series of images, really a time capsule from 100 years ago that you're seeing for the first time in 100 years," says "Exposed!" Co-Curator Bill Rodencal.

It was only a little over a year ago when the Milwaukee County Historical Society discovered more than 400 glass plate negatives of Harley-Davidson bikes, riders, and employees.

The pictures were all taken between 1915 and 1916, providing a missing link for the museum which didn't have photos from this time period.

"What we saw was so amazing we just knew we had to share it with the public," says Rodencal.

Nearly 60 of the photos are now on display in the exhibit "Exposed! Harley-Davidson's Lost Photographs 1915-1916."

Many of the pictures were used for advertising, whether it was photos used to create billboards, motorcycle parts for the catalog, or the popular racing bikes.

"Racing was a really big important part of selling motorcycles, the old adage win on Sunday sell on Monday," says Rodencal.

You can also get a glimpse of Milwaukee back in the early 1900s as all of the pictures were taken around the city.

"This would be Big Bend Road and this would be National Avenue, and if you look at the way finding sign there's Waukesha 5, Pewaukee 1 mile, West Allis, and Mukwonago Road," says Rodencal.

Now the public has a chance to take a trip back in time and enjoy these photos that some thought would never be found.

"Exposed!" will be on display at the Harley-Davidson Museum through January First.

You can also order your own copy of the pictures on display.

For more information on ordering your own copy, CLICK HERE.