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The Henry Ford - More Henry Ford than you can shake a stick at

Posted Oct. 30, 2004 by John Woltman

JC, MG & I visited the Henry Ford, which consists of several attractions. The Henry Ford Museum showcases American Industrial history, and the beginnings of the automative age. Greenfield Village was created by Henry Ford. He moved many historical buildings to the Village to preserve them for future generations. We saw sites such as the Wright Brothers' cycle shop, and Thomas Edison's laboratory.

Friday and Saturday were spent in Dearborn, the location of "The Henry Ford." The Henry Ford what? Nothing, it's just the Henry Ford. I guess if you change how the entire industrialized world works you can name museums whatever you want.

The Henry Ford consists of several complexes. The museum has a history of transportation...planes, trains, and automobiles. They have several presidential vehicles, including JFK's car, and the last presidential horse-drawn carriage. There are several locomotives, including a really nifty snowplow.

The Rouge Tour was up next. The Rouge is Henry Ford's all-in-one dream factory. It starts with two movies that explain the history of the factory, and the Ford F150 manufacturing process. Then we were taken up to the observation deck where you could see the buildings of the Rouge. After the deck we were able to tour the Dearborn Truck Plant, which is where the F150 truck is made. We weren't allowed to take pictures, and the camera phone pics I managed to sneak are too low quality.

Another section of the Henry Ford is Greenfield Village. The village is a recreation of many different periods of American history. Henry Ford brought historical buildings to Greenfield Village to preserve them for the future. One of the most interesting places was the Edison compound. It included Edison's glassworks, a laboratory, and a scaled-down electricity generating plant.

There is also a section of 1800s craftsmen's shops. There was a potter, a silver smith, wood carver, and glass blowers. A relocated lumber mill shows you how the old water-powered mills worked.

Back to museum...there's a great exhibit about the evolution of industry and manufacturing, which I think my Dad would get a kick out of. You start out with handcrafts, moving on to items such as looms and carding machines, and then dive deep into the steam age. There are many different complex machines, such as water pumps, AC generators, and steam plants. It really conveyed how much mankind can do, but also showed the darker side of the industrial revolution. Machines were cheaper than manual labor,and the pollution was changing the environment. Poor working conditions were deadly to the factory workers. OSHA would have had a field day.

A side note: I also got a greater appreciation for stories set in steam punk worlds. 

The museum's automobile exhibit showcases the history of the car, from the horseless carriage to modern Nascar racers. You can even check out the Wienermobile if you've never seen one tooling around outside Washington, D.C. or Philadelphia.