Over 230 vintage motorcycles were inside.
Once hailed as the highest-altitude museum in Europe, Top Mountain Crosspoint museum was tragically damaged in a fire early on January 18. Located in Austria at the base of Timmelsjoch mountain pass road, it previously contained the most extensive and valuable vintage motorcycle collection on the continent at over 230 examples, many of which are feared to have been destroyed.
The motorcycles contained in the museum were from over 100 different manufacturers like Sunbeam, Matchelss, and Zundapp, chronicling a large swath of the continent’s rich motorcycle heritage. Many of those bikes have a strong historical significance since they were used to win big races in their time.
A special exhibit of about 50 Indian motorcycles was on display at the museum. Included in that display was a 1926 Indian Scout 600 Solo and the Indian Munro Special, a 1920 Scout modified by Burt Munro to break numerous speed records, an effort immortalized in the film The World’s Fastest Indian back in 2005.
Nobody had been able to visit the museum since it closed its doors on November 3 of last year in compliance with the Austrian government’s COVID-19 restrictions. However, a reopening with precautions we’re all familiar with these days was scheduled for January 24.
A local news report indicate two staff members were at the museum but were asleep when the first alarm went off at about 4:30 am. They tried putting out the blaze themselves, however that attempt failed, so they called for help. By the time fire brigades began arriving, the flames had reached the ceiling inside the museum.
Videos of local fire brigades fighting the blaze shows just how large and fierce it had become. Flames could be seen shooting well above the roofline and had completely enveloped large sections of the structure. As the day wore on, it appeared that a classic truck with one motorcycle in the bed, as well as one or two other vintage motorcycles from the museum had been successfully moved away from the structure. They didn’t appear to have suffered any fire damage, although it’s unclear why. Footage from a local news crew showed close to a dozen other motorcycles parked in the snow outside the museum, also without an apparent damage.
Footage taken by a local news crew after the fire was essential out showed a good portion of the structure had been burned away, especially the roof and interior. Investigators are now sorting through what’s left to determine a cause of the blaze.
Located on a route that’s popular with motorcycle enthusiasts in Europe, the museum had become a gathering place for many. The popularity of the place went beyond motorcyclists, with some visiting to admire the lauded architecture or to enjoy the renowned food served inside, while others took advantage of the EV charging stations in the parking lot. It’s unclear just how long rebuilding the damaged portions of the structure will take, or even if the museum will ever be reopened.
Also housed in Top Mountain Crosspoint were numerous classic cars, many of which were also feared destroyed. Among them was an Aston Martin DB5 and an Alfa Romeo 8C race car. Other displays chronicling the history of the ski industry in the Alps, a gondola station, as well as a popular restaurant serving traditional Austrian and Italian cuisine were also housed in the structure.
While it’s tragic to see so many historic motorcycles and cars lost in a sudden fire, thankfully nobody was hurt. That alone is miraculous, considering how fierce the fire was as evidenced in the videos taken from outside.