In the canon of American Christmas symbols, Ralphie’s Red Ryder BB gun is as iconic as the Grinch or Currier and Ives, and it was made possible by the Daisy manufacturing company. This museum, which celebrates the company’s history that began in 1886, is truly a barrel of fun and information.
Originally, the business was founded as the Plymouth Iron Windmill Company, and air rifles were given as free gifts to customers. Although windmill sales flagged, interest in the air rifles skyrocketed. Upon firing one of the rifles, general manager Lewis Cass Hough himself is reported to have exclaimed, “Boy, that’s a daisy!”
Established in 2000, the museum’s chronological displays are bound to trigger nostalgic feelings in anyone who once owned a Daisy gun. The World War II exhibit is particularly extensive and recounts the company’s contributions to the War Department after targeting its manufacturing on defeating the Axis powers. Other displays chronicle technological advancements including the introduction of pneumatics and the development of paintball guns, originally used in the forestry and cattle industries.
While the expansive history of the airgun dominates the museum, there are a myriad of unexpected curiosities. Perhaps the most intriguing is a display featuring Apollo 14 astronaut Alan Shepard, who famously had the forethought to bring a modified six-iron to the moon to play golf. The two golf balls he launched onto the lunar surface bear the Daisy logo. It seems that in 1971, Daisy was owned by the Victor Comptometer Corporation which also sold golf balls. At the time, the Daisy story was muzzled because NASA did not permit private companies to derive commercial benefits from their programs.
Impressive as the Apollo story is, the museum has recently raised the caliber of its displays even more with the installation of the world’s largest Daisy BB gun. Standing at 25 feet tall, it is anchored by nearly 200,000 BBs that reside in the stock. Although the gun does not actually fire, if it did, it would require BBs approximately the size of ping-pong balls.
Know Before You Go
The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.