In 1940, long after Clarence Marshall had sold his dealership, he bought back the 1913 Stanley Model 76 that he’d sold decades earlier to a local farmer. This purchase reignited his interest in Stanley steam cars, and he continued to buy and restore Stanleys. In 1947, he erected the Marshall Steam Museum building to house his growing collection, which by then included about 30 cars, the majority of them Stanleys.

 
1913 Stanley Model 76 catalog image

1913 Stanley Model 76 catalog illustration. (Marshall Steam Museum Archives)

In September 1971, Clarence’s son, Tom, opened the “Magic Age of Steam.” Promoted as a museum with amusements that celebrated “Pleasures of a Past Era,” the Magic Age of Steam combined the Marshall collection of antique cars with the Auburn Valley Railroad and several other small rides to appeal to all ages, from tiny tots to grandparents. The Magic Age of Steam closed down in 1977.

 

Magic Age of Steam Postcard

Magic Age of Steam postcard from the 1970s. (Marshall Steam Museum Archives)

Tom Marshall inherited not only the Auburn Heights property and collections but also his father’s passion for mechanical matters and steam technology. Recognizing that an appreciation for how the cars operate could be lost if the knowledge required to operate the cars was not shared, he formed the “Steam Team” in 1997 and began teaching the practical skills needed to keep the Marshall collection running. The group evolved into the Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve in 2004 and remains dedicated today to educating the public about Delaware’s industrial history and the impact of steam technology.

In 2008 Tom and his wife, Ruth, gifted to Delaware State Parks the Auburn Heights estate, which includes the 1897 Queen Anne mansion (built the same year the Stanley brothers created their first car) that was home to three generations of the Marshall family. Tom and Ruth also donated to the Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve the Marshall automobile collection. To see the collection, visit http://auburnheights.org/collections/automobiles

To learn more about the Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve and the Marshall Steam Museum collections, programs and events, visit http://auburnheights.org/about/