Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Henry Ford Pt 2

You'll have to excuse my handwriting here; the breeze coming off Lake Eerie is moving the hammock, and the sun filtering through the trees makes the screen hard to read! Another amazing day at the Henry Ford. This time we went to the Greenfield Vilage as it opened at 9.30am. It'd been suggested that we allow 5.5 hours for this, and once again it was an underestimation - we left 30 mins before it closed at 5 o'clock!

So, Greenfield Village is a large collection of buildings that Henry Ford started accumulating from around the country and in a few instances from around the world. They've been moved to this site, reassembled and renovated to their original condition. There are all sorts of buildings - his childhood home, the garage shed in which he built his first automobile - the quadricycle, there are farmhouses, stables, barns, wealthy family homes, working class family homes, slaves quarters, plantation houses, a windmill, even a Cotswold cottage and a Swiss chalet! The complex is split into areas - working farms, porches & parlours, the steam railway (together with a working roundhouse), and the craftsmen - this included glassblowers, potters, weavers, printers, sawmills, carpenters but curiously no blacksmith. Now we've been to a few of these 'old' villages before during our time here and we've seen our fair share of blacksmiths - nearly always a working shop with a real bona fide blacksmith working the bellows and bending metal, insisting that you stay and watch them make something from nothing. (I even got given some neat little twisted metal curtain hooks that we watched being made at one place!). Trust me, you can only watch so uch blacksmithery in one lifetime so it seemed somewhat pleasantly surprising that there was no blacksmith here in the craftsmen area - oh, how disappointed we were! (it's become a bit of a standing joke!). But these guys at The Henry Ford are cleverer than we are - oh yes, here they cunningly snuck in a Cotswold Forge just for good measure...and what pray, does one find in a Cotswold Forge? A bloody blacksmith!! So we came away fulfilled and satisfied that the blacksmith lives another day here in Dearborn, Michigan! (and frankly in much nicer digs than usual, but then I'm biased to a bit of Cotswold stone anyday!)

It really was a great day. Aside from all the buildings that you could go in and explore, often with costumed guides welcoming you into the house and telling you a bit about the era in which they were decorated, the whole village was beautifully landscaped. There was the old village pond with covered bridge, long leafy roads with all the grand family homes on, and lovely farm yards and fields with crops. All the while Model T's were chugging along the roads (You could tell the route the Model T's took around the village by the trail of oil - I guess some things never change with Fords..!) and an old steam train was doing a circuit of the place whistling away!
Bizarre to think that many of the workers live in Detroit, (not the most picturesque of cities!) commute through the worst kind of traffic to then work in the peace and tranquility of a real working 1920s farming village. Shouldn't that be the other way round???

No comments: