Back to the House of Ford again, only this time to Greenfield Village, where Henry sought to re-create the world that inspired him to greatness. If the original building couldn’t be moved here, Ford just built a duplicate.
Some of the originals include the Wright Brother’s Bicycle shop, where Orville and Wilbur made their living repairing bicycles, but built their own airplane and carved their niche in history.
Because Ford was such good friends with Thomas Edison, one of his workshops is here, as is a scaled down replica of one of his early steam-powered electrical generating stations, along with George Washington Carver’s cabin.
We took a ride in a Model T and it was pretty cool, even if they wouldn’t let me drive. The throttle is on the steering column, looking for all the world like a little column shifter. The left pedal is the gearchange, push all the way down for first, halfway up is neutral and all the way out is second or top gear. It was surprisingly smooth and quiet and, with no shock absorbers, the ride was definitely on the springy side. Hit a bump and it just kept bouncing. The centre pedal is reverse, while the left pedal is the brake. Ford sold 15 million of those things.
Scattered about the property are various houses that Ford reconstructed in honour of his friends and those he admired. We saw Edison’s house, along with a replica of poet Robert Frost’s home, which had no woods that were lovely nor were they dark and deep. We had no promises to keep but, because Frost’s house was about as far away from the main gate as we could get, we definitely had miles to go before we slept.
Also notable was the Noah Webster house. Webster is credited with compiling the first American dictionary in 1828 and when we walked in, the air smelled remarkably stale and musty.
Musty: adjective – moldy; sour; foul and fetid; as in musty books.
Ford also reconstructed a replica of his little shop on Bagley Avenue where he built his first motor powered vehicle, the Quadricycle. Ford was an innovator and a genius but he kind of screwed up here – after he built the car, it wouldn’t fit through the door so he had to knock out a couple of feet of bricks. He then went through two failed companies before establishing the Ford Motor Company. Interesting to note that all the machinery was steam powered, including the machine shops where a huge steam generator powered several large shafts that ran above the floor and power was extracted by belt to drive the machinery.
The turn-of-the-century lathes and mills in the machine shop at Greenfield Village is still in use today, although the shafts are now electrically powered. Retired Ford machinists act not only as tour guides, but they fabricate bits for the equipment on the grounds e.g. wheel axles and other parts for the cars, as well as souvenir brass candlesticks small enough to hold birthday candles.
After Greenfield Village, the Orange Jelly Bean was down to a quarter of a tank so we filled up for $2.97 per US gallon. The tripmeter showed 400.7 km and it took 6.7 gallons (25.1 liters) for 6.275L / 100 km – surprisingly good consumption considering it was a combination of freeway and city driving.
We then headed west towards Ann Arbor and south to Dundee, Michigan which is famous for a huge Cabelas store. If you’ve ever been to the Bass Pro Shop in Vaughn Mills, this Cabelas is at least twice as large. I didn’t see anything hunting and fishing related that I couldn’t live without other than a smoked elk sandwich for lunch. Mmmm.
The Accent has been perfect. It starts, it goes, it stops. It does everything I need a car to do and if Editor Richardson had put the trailer hitch on as I’d requested, it would’ve been perfect for me. Surprisingly, after having not driven a standard transmission for over six years, I still haven’t stalled it….yet.