Posts From The Road: Asheville Pinball Museum

Pinball Wizards: Patrons line up to play the pinball machines at the Asheville Pinball Museum. Those who are experts at pinball are known as pinball wizards, a term created in the 1960s rock opera Tommy. Photo by Gary Warren/

Oldies: Machines in the museum from the 1930s and 40s are for display only and cannot be played. These beautiful vintage machines were all wood frames and legs and some were more ornate than current machines. Coin operated pinball machines were first developed in the 1930s. Photo by Gary Warren/


Formerly of Los Alamos

While growing up in the 1950s and 60s I saw and played my fair share of pinball. Pinball was very popular and pinball machines could be found in arcades, some restaurants, and even in grocery stores in that era.

The sounds, flickering lights, the bells and buzzers, the action of the ball as it ricochets off of the bumpers and post still get my attention decades later although I haven’t played in years.

On a trips through the southeast U.S. a few years ago we were visiting Asheville, N.C. While browsing the downtown area, we spotted the Asheville Pinball Museum. That was it for me and I had to check it out.

Purchase a ticket and you can play any machine in the place without coins. There was one row of machines from the 1940s that were for display only but the ticket allowed you to play the other machines as you wished. There were about 45-50 machines to choose from, most ranging from the 1950s through the 70s. Also included were some classic video games from the 1980s.

If you didn’t want to play, you were allowed to watch others and look at the machines for no charge. Seeing this little gem in downtown Asheville made my day!

Editor’s note: Longtime Los Alamos photographer Gary Warren and his wife Marilyn are traveling around the country and he shares his photographs, which appear in the ‘Posts from the Road’ series published in the Sunday edition of the Los Alamos Daily Post.

Pinball Machines: This is a view of one of the rows of pinball machines at the museum. The machine in the foreground is a newer model while the remaining machines are older with the older non-digital scoring wheels. Photo by Gary Warren/

Pinball and Classic Video Games: In addition to the wide array of pinball games, there are a few classic video game machines from the 1980s, which are available to play at the Asheville Pinball Museum. Photo by Gary Warren/

Gamers: The colors, sites, and sounds are all part of the experience for pinball players at the museum. Above each machine is a placard with the name and maker of the machine as well as the year it was produced. Photo by Gary Warren/