When you think about Henry Ford, the first thing that comes to many minds is that he was the man who invented the automobile. Well, he did not invent the automobile, but he did create the first automobile that middle class Americans could by, the famous Model T. The Model T has long since gone (except in antique car museums), but it was the vehicle that changed American travel forever. Henry Ford was a man of great innovation who founded the Ford Motor Company, a company that still exists to this day. When you visit the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, you can see so much of his innovations on display.
Some of you are saying, “That is so cool. I enjoy hearing about Henry Ford and the Model T. However, Henry Ford is famous for cars. He has nothing to do with the railroad.” Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to meet Henry Ford.
Henry Ford is mostly famous for the automobile and the Ford Motor Company, but before all of that could happen, he needed the materials to build the automobile, and one of those materials is steel. There were no steel mines in Detroit. The closest mines were in West Virginia. It will take years to take horse drawn carts to bring all that steel through the mountainous terrain to Detroit that is if the horses did not die off from the extreme stress. This is where the railroad played a major part in the invention of the automobile. The railroad hauled the steel from the mines of West Virginia to what was going to be the factories of Detroit. As you can see, the railroad played a big part in the creation of the first American automobile.
Now some of you are saying, “That is incredible. It is so amazing that the railroad was a major player in the building of the automobile, but what does that have to do with the museum?”
The Henry Ford Museum has many exhibits with twenty six million artifacts dating back to over two hundred and fifty years. Among those artifacts is the chair that President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in, the limousine that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in and the very bus that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in. Then you have the railroad exhibit. Yes, this is the very part that rail fans come to see. It is here where you will find the ‘Sam Hill’ steam locomotive and the 1941 Allegheny Steam Locomotive plus an old Refrigeration Car used by Fruit Growers Express. You will also find a snow plow, passenger cars, a caboose, and some more rolling stock. You see. Henry Ford had so much to do with railroads.
The Henry Ford is not your everyday average museum. Although it is not the largest museum in the world, it is a very big museum so you will need to prepare yourselves for so much walking. Be advised. There are so many great things to see here along with the railroad exhibit.
The Henry Ford Museum is part of what is called ‘The Henry Ford’ which features Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, the Ford Rouge Factory Tour and the Giant Screen Experience. It is located at 20900 Oakwood Boulevard in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. The museum is open all year round seven days a week from 9:30am to 5:00pm so if you are in Detroit in those winter months, it is nice to feel the warmth inside the museum. You can go to www.thehenryford.org for pricing information and how you can get combination tickets to visit the other sites.
Now you know something about Henry Ford and his innovation of the automobile, and how the railroad was a big part of his innovation.