A Trip to American Pickers

A Trip to American Pickers


A trip to Antique Archeology in Le Claire, Iowa proved that the American Pickers’ love of funky old motorcycle collectibles isn’t limited to your TV screen.

In Mississippi River town LeClaire, Antique Archeology stands by reason of its small size. The two-story former fabrication shop is home base for the “American Pickers” reality show on History Channel. The shop (actually shops, since the Pickers have added a new brick building to the original metal building at the tiny hillside location) is tucked behind a BP gas station on the way out of town to the south. The buildings are filled with both souvenir/gift items and actual antique “picks” from the TV show. And yes, the TV show picks do include a couple of motorcycles.

We had stopped at the shop twice before and no one was home. But this time was different. At 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon the small parking lot was packed with motorcycles, cars, vans, SUVs and people. Overflow vehicles (there were many) were parked on the steep hill and the street behind Antique Archeology. The hill is so steep that a rider coaxing a modern Indian upwards wisely had his lady partner vacate the buddy seat so he could safely pull away from a stop sign.

Inside the buildings, visitors with an interest in iron ponies could see or buy anything from a full-size Harley to a poster for a 1960s motorcycle flick. There were old motorcycle jackets, tires, engines and signs for sale. To see it all, you had to look everywhere—up, down, straight ahead and behind you. Motorcycle memorabilia was tucked into every nook and cranny.

If you’re planning a fun motorcycle ride along the river road and you want to see Antique Archeology, leave enough time to walk a few blocks and take in the sights and sounds of LeClaire as well. It’s a truly charming place with its small brick buildings, antique shops, outdoor cafes and excellent indoor eateries. It would be easy to spend an entire day there and not feel you’ve seen it all.




About John Gunnell 140 Articles
John “Gunner” Gunnell has been writing about cars since ‘72. As a kid in Staten Island, N.Y., he played with a tin Marx “Service Garage” loaded with toy vehicles, his favorite being a Hubley hot rod. In 2010, he opened Gunner’s Great Garage, in Manawa, Wis., a shop that helps enthusiasts restore cars. To no one’s surprise, he decorated 3G’s with tin gas stations and car toys. Gunner started writing for two car club magazines. In 1978, publisher Chet Krause hired him at Old Cars Weekly, where he worked from 1978-2008. Hot rodding legend LeRoi “Tex” Smith was his boss for a while. Gunner had no formal journalism training, but working at a weekly quickly taught him the trade. Over three decades, he’s met famous collectors, penned thousands of articles and written over 85 books. He lives in Iola, Wis., with his nine old cars, three trucks and seven motorcycles.

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