The Henry Ford

The Henry Ford

This is so much more than a museum!  It’s an adventure in exploration, history, life, invention, innovation, transportation, horticulture, education and more… So they didn’t even try to name all the aspects… it’s just “The Henry Ford”.

Henry Ford said of his museum:
I am collecting the history of our people as written into things their hands made and used…. When we are through, we shall have reproduced American life as lived, and that, I think, is the best way of preserving at least a part of our history and tradition…

In 1929 he dedicated Greenwood Village, over 80 acres of land with historic buildings arranged to portray America during the industrial revolution.  The Wright brothers’ home and office buildings were moved here while Orville Wright was still alive.  Orville personally supervised the process to make sure everything was perfectly done.

Henry Ford was a good friend and admirer of Thomas Edison, and purchased Edison’s lab buildings and moved them here.

Henry’s grade school building is here, George Washington Carver’s home, Noah Webster’s home, Luther Burbank’s office – the history here is staggering!  Many buildings demonstrate crafts as they were done in the time period. At least one house is run as it was: cooking over a fire in the fireplace, growing food in the garden, drying herbs for medicines, mending clothes and washing dishes; all done by folks in period dress.


This is a home moved from the Cotswolds in England.  I’m not sure why it’s here, but it certainly is beautiful.






This is the Wright Brothers’ house… It is really fascinating to think of the discussions and planning that took place on this porch and in these rooms!



Here is a “Department Store” of the day:



Inside the store are many artifacts, including an early Heinz ad and a Ford salesman training booklet.


80+ acres of old time America, with some horse drawn vehicles and lots of Model T’s.






Here is a ghost-like reflection of Cherryl in a 1700’s home:


Carousel notes here:


I got caught taking pictures of cute girls:




And, Oh Yes, the Cars!

Henry Ford was so enamored with Thomas Edison that he built this 500,000 square foot building to honor him and his work.  Ironically, since his death, it has morphed into more of a memorial for Henry than Thomas.  The main building has areas for Mathematics, American History, invention, and even a complete Buckminster Fuller Dymaxion house! (Check that out; fascinating!)

This is just one of many “side doors”.  The whole building is exquisitely beautiful.



Of course, this place is just exploding with cars!  Ha Ha… here is an exploded Model T.



And an early Model T in red, just to show that they weren’t all black!  Ford is famous for later saying people can have a T in any color they want, as long as it’s black!  I’ve heard for years that the reason for that statement was that the black paint dried faster, and was therefore better suited for his production lines.  In fact, the real reason for keeping everything black was to vastly simplify organizing all the parts on the assembly line.


Ford set amazing record production numbers with his cars – records only eventually broken by the VW beetle.



Thankfully the Henry Ford is not only about Ford and his cars – There are hundreds of interesting cars of every make imaginable.  Here is one of my favorites; a 1936 Cord 812.  Called the “Coffin Nose” Cord, it was front wheel drive, had hidden headlights, hidden radio antenna, and a semi-automatic transmission – about 40 years before the Oldsmobile Toronado came along with the same attributes.



The Lincoln Continental Mark II was a landmark Vehicle, really the first “Personal Luxury” car.  At about $10,000, this 1956 model was the most expensive American car you could (or couldn’t) buy.



Here is a Bugatti – a real Bugatti, designed by Ettore Bugatti, and one of the most exclusive cars of its day.



When the Japanese cars started taking over sales of American cars, Detroit autoworkers were not happy about it…



So Honda started manufacturing cars on US soil, with US labor, and eased the tension a bit.  This is the first Honda built in the USA.




In the early 1900’s, “Cyclecars” were popular in Europe.  They were a bit too fragile for American roads, and tended to fall apart quickly.  That along with Henry Ford’s Model T selling for a bit less, ended the Cyclecar’s popularity quickly.  Here is a 1913 Scripps – Booth “Rocket” Cyclecar.



Charles Kuralt was a CBS television journalist, who put this proposal to his boss: “Why don’t you let me wander around the country and do some feature stories?”  His boss agreed, and he started wandering in a motorhome, with a camera person and a driver.  His well done program, “On The Road”, showcased real people, and ran for 27 years!  They went through several motorhomes, drove over a million miles, visiting all 50 states. They never spent the night in the motorhomes; they were more of a mobile studio.



Goldenrod broke the Land Speed Record for wheel driven cars in 1965, at over 409 miles per hour!  This record held for over 25 years!



The Henry Ford has a succession of Presidential cars, from the first cars to carry a President, to the Lincoln that President Kennedy was assassinated in, and the car (below) that President Reagan was using during his attempted assassination.



While we are talking about assassination, President Lincoln was shot during a program at the Ford’s Theater in Washington, sitting in this very chair.


A few years ago, we attended a performance at Ford’s Theater, and sat in the balcony right next to the now partitioned off box where President Lincoln was assassinated.


Right after WWII, automakers were frantically trying to create fresh and new designs, but it would take years to convert from making military vehicles and munitions to making interesting cars.  Preston Tucker was an exception – he started with a clean sheet of paper, so to speak, and came up with a revolutionary design.  It was to be very safe, very comfortable, and have great performance.  It is best known for its center headlight, that turned with the car to light the way around corners.  The car had many advanced features, including an air-cooled aircraft engine, located in the rear.  Tucker produced and sold a good number of cars, but not near enough to pay for all his research, design and production set up.  The Tucker car died after only a couple of years.  There are some who believe he was just a con man, and never planned on producing a car line, but in my humble opinion, he was just a better designer than business man, and got swallowed up.  He’s certainly not the only one!



The Thomas Flyer won the “New York to Paris” around the world race in 1907.  It was the first car to cross the United States, doing it in only 43 days! The race was originally to have the cars drive across the Pacific Ocean on the frozen Bering Strait, but that was abandoned and the cars were shipped.


This is not a ’57 Chevy… it’s a ’56.  My aunt had one somewhat like this, but not a convertible and not such pretty paint.



The guy looking confused, to my right, really isn’t.  He and a helper disassemble a Model T every morning, and reassemble it every afternoon.  Just to show how simple it is.  And they let observers help.  No wonder he looks a little tired!

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Pardon my expression… it was the first time she’d driven a Model A!


We now drive a Chevy Suburban.  Chevy now has a trademark on that name, but years ago there were at least 8 cars named “Suburban”.  It was a term like “Station Wagon”.  Over the years, all of them ceased production, and about 25 years ago Chevrolet could trademark the name.  (Chevy’s Suburban is now the longest production run of any model, at 85 years and counting!)  Below is a 1950 Plymouth Suburban.


If you get tired of cars, there are exhibits of Airplanes with cars!  This is a Ford Tri-motor, and not just any Trip-motor, but the one Admiral Byrd first flew over the north pole!  And there happens to be a nice Lincoln alongside.


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And in addition to several airplanes, there are a bunch of trains!  This is a 1941 Alleghany locomotive.  It is said to be the biggest, strongest, heaviest locomotive ever!  Wait a minute… didn’t I say the same thing about the “Big Boy” locomotive now in Council Bluffs?  It seems there is some controversy here.  One is heavier, the other can pull more, but the other is longer, or the other is more efficient… I’m not sure who wins.  I can’t lift either one of them.



“Control Panel for the Allegheny.



Here’s a beautiful old steamer; leaving me with a question: Who the Sam Hill was it named after??




If moving machinery wasn’t enough for you, here is the powerplant from one of Ford’s biggest factories.  When he moved the plant, he relocated this huge electrical generator here and build the building around it.  It is two stories tall, and impossible to photograph in its entirety.



Battle Creek


A lot of Seventh-day Adventist history is packed into a town in Michigan called Battle Creek.  One former Adventist was John Harvey Kellogg, a physician with what were then radical ideas about reforming healthcare.  With his brother, W. K. Kellogg as bookkeeper, he started a “Sanitarium” in 1866, which was more than just what we now call a hospital – it was geared to rehabilitate and restore complete health.  He instituted principles taught by the Adventist Church, and his success was amazing – patients came from all over the world.  The Mayo Brothers came to study his methods.  It grew in both fame and physical size. Some say he eventually got “too big for his britches”, and in 1902 “God burned down his sanitarium”.  If there was a lesson here, he didn’t learn it.  He rebuilt, on a much larger and grander scale.  It was so successful, in 1928 he added some impressive towers making is even more elegant.  Unfortunately for both Kellogg and “The San”, the stock market crash of 1929 crashed this establishment also.  By 1933 it was bankrupt, and the huge building sat empty till the Federal Government bought it in 1942.  It became a hospital for rehabilitation of American GI’s during and after WWII; a focus on neurosurgery and artificial limb work.  In the 50’s it was converted to office space for the Federal Government.  They must push a lot of paper around in so much space!




The Kellogg name is more widely known, of course, for breakfast cereal.  It started in the “San”, as a way to get people to eat more grains and improve their health.  J. H. Kellogg and his brother, W. K. Kellogg, eventually fought and separated; J. H. running the San and W. K. developing the cereal.  One of their employees, C. W. Post, eventually left and formed his own cereal company.  Some feel he stole ideas and recipes from the Kelloggs, but at any rate, the two brands have survived much better than the San!

Adventist Village


There is a whole park-like area with many homes and buildings with Adventist Heritage. Below is the house where James and Ellen White lived.  There are many fascinating and historic period homes on the property.


Cherryl looks ready to preach from a pulpit made to accommodate the 5 foot 2 Mrs. White.  Just Cherryl’s size!

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Oak Hill Cemetery


Again, a lot of Adventist Heritage is memorialized here:  The Whites are buried here with their children.



C. W. Post has a rather imposing monument:


Kellogg has a more discrete monument, but it seems to be for a whole area.

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The cemetery is by no means all Adventist.  This marker shares the name of a dear friend of mine…



And there are a few I noticed for Snodgrass.  And I thought that was just a joke name!



The End.


Some photos by Cherryl.  I can’t tell you which ones… they are just mixed in.  You decide.


One comment

  1. fascinating!! tx I have seen a Tucker auto here in Sacramento. They only made 50 cars…interesting headlight.

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