LAKES – LOCKS – LONG RIVER — 1-18 SEPTEMBER 2019 – PART 4 – GREENFIELD VILLAGE 7 September

If you have been “traveling with me” on these posts, you know the Grande Mariner left Mackinac Island at 5AM on 6 September. The sixth was devoted to cruising down Lake Huron towards Detroit. Lots of blue scenery that became broken with high white caps for much of the day – a rough five hours dancing between those white caps. I was up very early on the 7th (as I did many days) so as to not miss much. Here is the map of where we were at about 6:30 AM on 7 September – approaching Detroit.

See the large dark blue to the right of Detroit and Windsor, Canada? HOMES, five Great Lakes, right? Wrong, there is a small sixth Great Lake – Lake St. Clair – and that is the dark blue you see. Lake Huron flows into the Detroit River, which then opens up into Lake St. Clair, appropriately enough at Walpole Island, Canada. The lake then becomes the river again ultimately passing into Lake Erie to the south. So, now you can win more drinks proving there are really six Great Lakes.

We passed the city of Detroit about 7 AM, 7 September.

On schedule we docked at Wyandotte at 9 AM. The optional tour was a visit to the Ford Rouge Plant, The Henry Ford, and Greenfield Village – all in one day. From experience, I knew that was only a fast overview of the three places. I spent a full day at The Henry Ford 22 February 2015, and the next day at the Rouge River Plant and museum. Today my plan was to go off on my own and spend the full day at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, also created by Henry Ford. Ends up the cab company I had talked with 10 days earlier does not run on weekends, but fortunately I eventually found someone to come out and get me, and I only lost about an hour. My entrance ticket reads 10:30 AM, and I did not depart until 4:30.

Based upon my previous visits in 1957 and 1967 I somehow thought I would have a day peacefully strolling by myself – was I wrong. Not only has the village expanded, and with activities to attract younger families, but I was there for the “69th Annual Old Car Festival at The Henry Ford”  – the longest running car show in America. The place was packed, but a nice packed with cars (nothing newer than 1930 fortunately, antique bicycles, and costumed visitors). Reading of all the activities throughout the year, if I lived close I would become a member.

So, here goes with mainly images so you may spend the 7th of September with me in Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. I encourage you to learn more about Ford moving historic buildings here (and recreating others), especially places with meaning to him. I recommend getting a copy of TELLING AMERICA’S STORY: A HISTORY OF THE HENRY FORD.

The entrance to Greenfield Village.

Henry Ford’s birthplace.

In 1896, Ford built his quadricycle at 58 Bagley Avenue in Detroit. With bricks from that street he recreated that shop in the cluster of Ford related buildings in the village.

In 1945, Henry Ford added one last building before his death, a 1/4 scale reproduction of his first Ford plant that was on Mack Avenue in Detroit.

housed inside is:

Ford held many mechanical geniuses and inventors in high esteem, and moved symbols of their lives to Greenfield Village. Orville and Wilbur Wright’s bicycle shop and home are together here.

Wright Cycle Shop at Greenfield Village

one room for bicycle repair

the first plane was built in the back, then disassembled with the parts sent to North Carolina for the famous flight.

Constructing the Wright Plane

Along with the car show, an antique bicycle club was in attendance exhibiting, performing and competing. And all in costume.

The day before the village opened in October, 1929, Ford decided he wanted to have an operating tintype studio. He had an accurate one built in a day, and it still stands.

Ford hired the last traveling tin-typist, who took up residence here producing over 400,000 tintypes. He could even have taken this one of me in 1957, when I was a guest of the museum. The backdrop is a painting of Henry Ford’s birthplace. Another tidbit to win you a drink, a tintype image comes out in reverse, thus the backdrop was painted in reverse to appear correct in the image.

Today the studio is set up for those selfies that people take.

what’s a tintype? Here you go (click to read easier).

Just down the way is the rural post office. I had “free rein” during my 1957 visit, and was allowed to stand behind the counter and play postmaster. Then and there I decided I wanted to be Postmaster General of the US. Did not work out, but my interest in US commemorative stamps led to my interest in history, and probably everything else. I kindly asked the docent if I could step behind, and explained why. When other guests left, she said, “let’s hurry,” and I gave her my camera.

can you tell I was having fun? Besides cars everywhere, they were driving on all the streets. Coming to the corner, there was LADY RAB’s sister, another 1929 Model A Ford roadster.

As a young man, Henry Ford, had worked for Thomas A. Edison in one of the Detroit electric plants. Edison showed interest in Ford’s inventiveness and encouraged him. Later becoming close friends, Ford originally named his museum The Edison Institute, and it was dedicated October 29, 1929, the 50th anniversary of the invention of the Edison light bulb. Supposedly the first light bulb, but I know you know better to win more drinks. Ford recreated much of Edison’s Menlo Park.

Enjoying the cars lined up along all the streets, this Model A caught me stopping, and I crawled underneath to see the how the drive-train was done. Actually two rear ends, with gears on the rear of the first one with another drive shaft to the back rear end. I took a picture and sent it to Dr. Dewey to starting building me one.

Many buildings with many stories abound. Luther Burbank, Daniel Webster’s home where he finished his dictionary, McGuffey’s home (his readers impacted on Ford greatly), and on and on. Money was no expense, particularly with the few recreations. Ford bought Steven Foster’s home. Years later it was learned that the home had actually been destroyed, and this one was next door.

a slave plantation home

and the Common – packed with more car show.

Here is the Edison Generating plant where Ford had worked, albeit a recreated scaled down version.

And, you should also know that Edison was almost totally deaf. As a newsboy peddling papers on trains, he also did experiments in the baggage car. One not so successful experiment caught the car on fire, and the conductor, holding young Edison by his ears, tossed him off the train at this station.

When Ford brought Edison up to this station by train to surprise him of the move, Edison refused to get off to see it. No hard feelings, I guess.

You know I like to shoot images out of windows and similar framing opportunities. Any guess why I captured this award winner?

In recent years the railroad and industrial areas have been expanding, including this “new” roundhouse with an original turntable.

and, again if you know me, you know I love old diners. You cannot get much older than the original lunch wagons. Ford used to have his meals at this wagon when working for Edison. Back in the early days of the village this was the only spot to get a bite to eat.

And, a group of “tin-can tourists” set up camp, complete with all the accoutrements of roadside camping in the 1920s. Another fun thing I like to learn about, and yes, I have my collection of vintage camping baskets.

Sadly the village was about to close – I could have spent another day. I was able to hitch a ride on the tour bus back to the ship. Before I re-boarded, I walked downtown Wyandotte, then over to the river to walk back north to the ship. And, here I found this sign – another “first” we all need to know about.

Back underway about midnight (I did not get up as it was dark), and we began crossing Lake Erie next with port visits at Cleveland and Buffalo. Then it will be locks, locks, more locks, and bridges. I can’t wait, hope you continue to join me to see what many do not get to see.

WATER WANDERINGS 3-18 SEPTEMBER 2019
GREAT LAKES, WELLAND CANAL, OSWEGO CANAL,
ERIE CANAL, and HUDSON RIVER

Part 1 – Genesis
Part 2 – Chicago – arriving aboard the Grande Mariner
Part 3 – Underway to Wisconsin and Mackinac Island
Part 4 – Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan
Part 5 – Port visits – Cleveland and Buffalo
Part 6 – Welland Canal – Canada
Part 7 – Rochester, NY and The Oswego Canal
Part 8 – The Erie Canal (may be a part A and B)
Part 9 – The Hudson River (may be a part A and B)

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3 Responses to LAKES – LOCKS – LONG RIVER — 1-18 SEPTEMBER 2019 – PART 4 – GREENFIELD VILLAGE 7 September

  1. Betty says:

    Really enjoyed this post, Ray! We also only spent one day at Greenfield Village but truly you could spend 3 or more and still not be able to take it all in. In the Edison lab, did you get the info about that chair that was in the picture? We were told that Edison came back to the lab for the 50th anniversary of the lighting of the first Edison bulb and sat in that chair for the reenactment. When Edison rose from the chair, an astute employee (maybe Ford himself) had someone affix the chair to the floor and told everyone that chair will never be moved. Hence, if you look carefully, you’ll see the floor boards are different around that chair. When they redid the floor, they worked around that chair. Greenfield Village and The Henry Ford are amazing places that everyone who loves museums MUST see!
    And boy, did you get there on the perfect day! The antique cars and period costumed reenactors were right up your alley. Love the pic of you behind the Postmaster counter and especially the tintype of you during your childhood visit!
    I smiled reading this post, you must have had a grin on your face the whole time you were there.

    • Ray Boas says:

      You are absolute correct Betty. I choose not to go on and on with words in the post, there is so much that could be said. It was Ford himself who directed the chair Edison sat in during the reenactment to be nailed to the floor, and never moved. Edison sat because of his advanced age and health at the time. The docent said that no one has been allowed to sit in the chair since – BUT – when my Dad and I had a private tour in 1957, we were at the bench and my mind (may be playing tricks on me) tells me I sat in the chair as a special treat. At least it sounds like a good tale – hard to think that after 90 years that no one has sat in the chair (other than Edison and me), and the chair not been moved.

      Get the book on inter-library loan that I mention, a good quick read with lots of insight. Another visit may be in order some day, maybe for a show with LADY RAB. Thanks for touring with me, RAY

      > WordPress.com

  2. Carolyn says:

    Can’t beat Betty’s comments, so ditto to you Betty. Makes me want to plan a trip. Thanks to you Ray for sharing this adventure.

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