Clearly, not-to-be-missed in the Detroit area, and highlights of our reunion, are the Henry Ford Museum and the adjoining Greenfield Village in Dearborn Michigan.
Enroute, we passed the World’s Largest Tire, located along I-94 near the Detroit Airport, it is a 2-ton, 80-foot-tall behemoth which was built to withstand hurricane-force winds, and served as a Ferris wheel (and a huge advertisement for Uniroyal) at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair.
Named for its founder, the noted automobile industrialist Henry Ford,
and based on his desire to preserve items of historical significance and portray the Industrial Revolution, the combined museum and village house a vast array of famous homes, machinery, exhibits, and Americana. The collection contains many rare exhibits including John F. Kennedy’s presidential limousine, Abraham Lincoln’s chair from Ford’s Theatre, Thomas Edison’s laboratory, the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop, and the Rosa Parks bus.
Entering the museum, our first stop, one is greeted by an icon of Americana.
From there, there are vast exhibits which make wandering among the aisles and trying to see everything a challenge. We quickly realized the admonitions that it takes several days to thoroughly see everything was more than rhetoric … as we had only today.
The following, therefore, is just a sampling of what the museum has to offer …
Ambler Mowing Machine – circa 1836
Moldboard Plow – circa 1845
Manure Spreader – crica 1905
Oliver Chilled Iron Cast Plow – circa 1890
At the wheel of a Massy-Harris Model-20 Combine – circa 1940
Experimental Tractor – circa 1907
Model of Eli Whitney’s Cotton Gin – circa 1920
Wood burning stoves and exterior lights
1960s, 1970s and 1980s Television
One of many period furniture exhibits and an original painting of Mark Twain
Early McDonald’s Restaurant
Texaco Gas Station
1950s Teen Things
Teddy Roosevelt – Brougham Carriage – circa 1902
Franklin D. Roosevelt – Lincoln Sunshine Special – circa 1939
Dwight D. Eisenhower – Bubble-top Lincoln – 1950 (formerly used by President Truman)
John F. Kennedy – Lincoln – 1961
Ronald Reagan – Lincoln – 1972
American History – “With Liberty and Justice for All”
Folding cot bed used by George Washington
Cloth from stage actress Laura Keene’s dress. Her company was playing at Ford’s Theatre, Washington, on the night of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Keene entered the presidential box at Ford’s Theatre after the President was shot by John Wilkes Booth, and cradled the wounded President’s head in her lap right in front of Mary Todd Lincoln.
Original chair in which President Lincoln was seated when he was shot by John Wilkes Booth
Rosa Parks “Bus”
Debbie in the seat Rosa Parks refused to give up on December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, AL
Colored drinking fountain
Original and First-edition Documents
Stamp Act (1765)
Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” (1776)
Harriet Beacher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (1952)
Henry Ford gave this trailer to his friend Charles Lindberg in 1942
1949 Airstream Trailwind
1959 Volkswagon Westfalia
1975 FMC Motorhome – Used by CBS’ Charles Kuralt for his 27 year “On the Road” show.
Women of Rock N Roll – Special Exhibit
Debbie loved this!
Carrie Underwood – Taylor Swit – Alica Keye
Ford Flivver – 1926
1929 Lockheed Vega – the same type of aircraft Amelia Ehrhart flew on her ill-fated around the world attempt in 1939
Pitcarin PCA-2 Autogyro
Byrd Antarctic Expedition Fokker – 1929
Replica of the Wright Brothers’ first flight airplane
Actual Assembly of a Model-T
1896 Ford Quadricycle
1899 Duryea Trap
1865 Roper Steam Carriage
1896 Riker Electric Tricycle
1903 Oldsmobile Runabout – The best-selling car in America between 1901-1905
and the inspiration for the popular song,
“Come away with me, Lucille,
In my merry Oldsmobile
Down the road of life we’ll fly
Automobubbling, you and I”
1912 Ford Milk Truck
1927 Ford Blue Bird No. 1 – American’s oldest surviving school bus
Brugatti Type 41 – circa 1931
Electric Commuta Car – 1980
Duisenberg Model J -1931
1957 Cheve BelAire – Identical in color to a car Debbie’s dad owned
Chevrolet Corvair – 1960 – The car Debbie and dated in between 1964-1966
Scores of other cars
1965 Goldenrod – In November 1965, this car streaked across Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats at 409.227 MPH, breaking the land speed record for wheeled cars … a record which stood until 1991
While wandering among the locomotives,
and just a few minutes before we had planned to leave the museum, we ran into friends from the time we lived in New Hampshire, Bill and Susan Weiske and their daughter Tara, whom we’ve not seen in more than 20 years.
After meeting up with our RV friends we went to
Henry Ford is the largest indoor-outdoor museum complex in America. After passing by the Josephine Ford Memorial Fountain
nearly one hundred historical buildings were moved to the property from their original locations and arranged in a “village” setting. The Village’s intent is to show how Americans lived and worked since the founding of the country and includes buildings from the 17th century to the present, many of which are staffed by costumed interpreters who conduct period tasks like farming, sewing and cooking. Greenfield Village has 240 acres of land of which only 90 acres are used for the attraction, the rest being forest, river and extra pasture for the sheep and horses.
Our first stop as at the Eagle Tavern for lunch.
We then struck out separately to tour the amazing array of buildings.
Farris Windmill – built in West Yarmouth on Cape Cod in the mind-1600s, it is believed to be the oldest windmill in the United States
Replica of the cabin where George Washington Carver was born … into slavery but was later known for his achievements as an agricultural chemist
William Holmes McGuffey’s birthplace and cabin (circa 1800)
Susquehanna Plantation (circa 1835) – the home of Henry and Elizabeth Carroll who enjoyed a prosperous life … in large part due to his enslaved workers whom he made work brutal hours in the fields
Mattox Family Home (circa 1880) – who lined the walls of their home with newspapers to insulate against cool Georgia and nights and winters
Plympton Family Home (circa 1700s) – Thomas Plympton, Sr. arrived in America in 1639 and lived in this one-room house in Sudbury Massachusetts where they raised seven children
Typical 17th and 18th century fence
Ackley Covered Bridge (circa 1832)
Chapman Family Home (1860) – John Chapman was Henry Ford’s favorite teacher and transferred to the nearby Miller School when Chapman got a job there. Although he lived in a small home, Chapman was a large man and used his build to intimidate disobedient students in his classroom.
Cotswold Cottage (circa early 1600s) – Limestone was plentiful in England and many homes were made of this natural resource. Originally small, modest country homes they also became escapes for city-dwelling people.
Noah Webster’s Home (built in New Haven, CT in 1823) – He lived in this home with his wife, two daughters and at least one African American slave. His famous American Dictionary of the English Language with some 70,000 entries was published in 1828 and sold for $20.00
Luther Burbank’s Birthplace (Built around 1800 in Lancaster, MA) and Garden Office (Built around 1900 in Santa Rosa, CA) – Known as “the plant wizard”, during his 53-year career he worked as a plant breeder and produced more than 800 varieties including many popular varieties of daisies and potatoes.
Robert Frost’s home (circa 1835 in Ann Arbor, MI) – In this home in which he lived as a poet-in-residence at the University of Michigan in the 1920s , Frost wrote some of his best poetry, including “Spring Pools”.
The Heinz House (built in Sharpsburg PA in 1854) – H.J. Heinz spent much of his time in the basement of his family’s house making and bottling horseradish. He was soon producing many other items including pickles, sauerkraut and celery sauce.
Cohen’s Millinery – Elizabeth Cohen was a young widow who opened up this millinery shop as a way to earn money after her husband’s death; living on the second floor while running the shop.
Henry Ford’s Restored home (built in 1861 in Springwells Township, MI) – Henry Ford was born and grew up in this house with his five brothers and sisters. He left home at the age of 16 to find opportunities in the growing industries of Detroit. Ford made certain everything was exactly as he remembered. For 18 months he sent be people around the country searching for the dining room stove like the one that was in his boyhood home.
This building was modeled after Henry Ford’s first factory, located on Mack Avenue in Detroit.
The Wright Brothers’ Family home
The Wright Cycle Shop (built circa 285 in Dayton, OH) – The Wright Cycle Shop is considered the “birthplace of aviation”. This is the original building where the Wright Flyer was made. Orville and Wilbur did much of the hands-on work on their airplanes here.
The only photograph of the Wright Brothers’ first flight.at Kitty Hawk on December 1, 1903
Statue of Thomas Alva Edison (1847 – 1981), holder of 1.093 patents, was one of Henry Ford’s closest friends
Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Complex – home of the first electric light bulb, the first phonograph and many other inventions.
While not the first to produce an electric light, Edison was the first to invent one which would burn for more than a few seconds – his secret, a carbon coated thread encased in a vacuum bulb
Edison’s chair, and the actual flooring from his original lab underneath, where he watched his first electric light burn for 13½ hours on December 31, 1779
Edison’s cylinder phonograph, invented in 1877
There are a host of other historical and interesting structures within the Ford’s Greenwood Village collection.
Back at our campground, after a long rush-hour trip, we all gathered around for wine and a dinner which ended up being little more than store-bought popcorn and one or more slices of Carol’s award-winning chocolate cake!