The Henry Ford has a number of options and directions to go, but too many for us to cover all in one day, so we had to make choices. Some of our group opted for a visit to Greenfield Village, which consists of seven historical districts and is practically a full-day tour. Some historical buildings have been restored and moved there to be preserved, some have been re-created. Vintage transportation, skilled artisans, and costumed docents are part of every day’s adventures. It’s a walk through American history, and a tribute to American innovation, with sites such as Edison’s lab and the Wright Bicycle Shop.
Gayle and I chose to do the factory tour, Steve an “in depth” background tour, and several of us decided to visit the museum as well. The Ford Museum celebrates American innovative genius and enterprise from the 18th through the 20th century. It contains “firsts” and “largest” and “biggest” of an unlimited number of artifacts. (Once again we observed what was claimed to be the largest steam locomotive ever built.) Sad parts of our history are recorded there also, with the chair in which Lincoln was assassinated, and the John F. Kennedy limousine. And it was interesting to learn that Kennedy wasn’t the last president to ride in it and that it had been refurbished and made safer for several subsequent presidents.
It’s difficult to know how it was determined to be genuine, but there is on exhibit a camp bed used by George Washington, part of the display on the evolution of American freedom. And the Ford Museum would certainly be lacking if it didn’t have a comprehensive collection of automobiles, including a Model-T, as well as a complete section devoted to the pioneering of the skies and the history of aviation from 1903 on. The exhibit, Made in America, pays tribute to the many in our history through the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries who made America a manufacturing superpower—famous names and names not so well known; products from kerosene lamps to gas fixtures to electric fixtures to LEDs; appliances from wood stoves to gas and electric ranges to microwaves; and on and on.
Modern enterprises such as McDonald’s aren’t overlooked either.
There’s far too much to absorb in just one visit, but the museum does present a generous overview and appreciation of what our nation is all about and what our people are all about. It gives us pause to reflect on what has been accomplished and what is yet to be done.
Answer to Trivia Question: Once railroad lines had became operative every station in every town set its own clock, making it difficult to coordinate train schedules. Therefore, four standard time zones were introduced on November 18, 1883, to enable smoother train travel.