Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

Lyn St. James Prepping a Driver, 2008 (Object ID: 2008.26.3.4)

Race car driver, commentator, author, motivational speaker. Competed in seven Indianapolis 500 races in nine years, including six consecutive years. Two-time competitor in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s oldest endurance sports car race. Nine-time participant in the 12 Hours of Sebring race.  Two wins at the 24 Hours of Daytona race. Owner of over 30 national and international speed records over a 20-year period. A courageous, determined, hardworking, record-breaking, and inspirational race car driver. A woman.

Are you surprised? We're describing Lyn St. James, one of the most influential female race car drivers in history. From her first professional race in 1973, to her last in 2000, Lyn St. James continually showed the motor sports world that not only could women compete with men on the race track, but that they would outlast them, outsmart them, and outrun them. Lyn St. James was a pioneer who embodies the saying that sometimes “it takes a woman to do a man’s job.”

Throughout her career, Lyn helped other female athletes build successful careers just like she had. She serviced as the President of the Women’s Sports Foundation for 3 years, and established her own charitable foundation, Women in the Winner’s Circle, in 1994. Her work with the foundation even led to the formation of a traveling museum exhibit about female drivers, created with The Henry Ford, in 2010. Continue Reading

2014.4.264

A couple of weeks ago on the blog, we shared slides from the John Margolies Roadside America collection, newly digitized in anticipation of a Margolies exhibit coming to The Henry Ford later this year.  However, John Margolies did not only take photographs of interesting places he encountered on the road; he also collected related items.  We’ve just digitized about 300 pennants Margolies collected, representing various cities, states, parks, zoos, circuses, beaches, landmarks, and intriguing roadside attractions.  On this colorful example, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox invite you to visit the Trees of Mystery along the Redwood Highway, California.  To find out if your hometown or favorite childhood attraction is represented, visit our collections website and peruse all the digitized pennants—and see if you can spot any of them in the exhibit later this year!

Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford.

Roadside America

"Allegheny" and "Sam Hill" Locomotives and Replica "DeWitt Clinton" Locomotive and Coaches, circa 1956-1958. P.B.12920

On this week's episode of "The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation" you'll learn more about our collection of trains found inside Henry Ford Museum. Want to learn more? Take a look.

Look

Locomotives of Greenfield Village

Expert set: Some of the locomotives of Greenfield Village—working artifacts

Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

The Ford Pipers

March 17, 2015

The Ford Pipe Band, 1947.

If you’re out celebrating St. Patrick’s Day you’re sure to hear the sound of the bagpipes. In America, you’ll most likely hear the Scottish highland pipes, not the Irish uilleann pipes, but over the years the highland pipes have been assimilated into Irish culture and it’s hard to pass a St. Patrick’s Day celebration without hearing the familiar strain of the pipers. And speaking of bagpipes, did you know Ford Motor Company sponsored its own Pipe Band in the 1930s and 1940s? Continue Reading

The Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit exhibit will be on display at the Detroit Institute of Arts from March 15, 2015 through July 12, 2015.  As a community partner for the exhibit, The Henry Ford has been digitizing selections from our collection that document Diego Rivera’s creation of the Detroit Industry frescoes and Diego and Frida’s time in Detroit.  Below are links to six sets within our digital collections that bring some additional context to the exhibition.

Detroit Industry Frescoes: The Backstory

Edsel Ford funded the Detroit Industry frescoes, and Diego Rivera was inspired by the Ford Rouge Factory.  As a result, Ford Motor Company, Edsel, Diego, and Frida became intertwined during the artists’ time in Detroit.  This set features behind-the-scenes photographs of Diego, Frida, and others involved in the project; photos of Diego’s original drawings for the murals; a photograph taken by Ford Motor Company at Diego’s request; and correspondence between the DIA and Ford Motor Company about supplying glass and sand for the work.

Diego Rivera at the Detroit Institute of Arts with John "Viscount Hastings," Clifford Wight and William Valentiner, 1932-1933.

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canadian-pacific

Although they are seldom seen in action, snowplows are an important part of the railroad scene.

This snowplow, operated in rural New England and Canada, is one of 36 built by Canadian Pacific's Angus shops in Montreal between 1920 and 1929. It is a 20-ton, wedge-type plow made for use on a single track - it throws snow on both sides of the unit. Built without a self-contained power source, the snowplow was pushed by one or two locomotives. Its ten-foot overall width can be increased to 16 feet by the extension of the large hinged wings on its sides. Moveable blades at the front, designed to clear the area between the rails, can be raised at crossings to avoid damage to equipment.

The snowplow's cab contains compressed air tanks that control the wings and blades, as well as providing air for a whistle used by the plow operator to signal the locomotive engineer. The cab also contains a heating stove. This plow was in service from 1923 until 1990.

You can see more photos of the snowplow here.

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

turbine-engine

1963 Chrysler Turbine

Regenerative gas turbine engine, 130 horsepower.

turbine

Chrysler experimented with turbine engines for some 25 years. The Turbine could run on almost anything – gasoline, diesel, kerosene, even peanut oil (with exhaust that smelled like baking cookies)! While the fuel flexibility was terrific, the fuel economy was less than stellar. Chrysler ended the Turbine program in 1979. Note the huge air filter housing in front of the engine. The Turbine gulped about four times more air than a piston engine.

Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford.

Engines Exposed

American type 4-4-0 locomotives, like the “Sam Hill,” are quintessential symbols of 19th century progress. THF.91567

Chances are that, when you hear the phrase “steam locomotive,” you picture an engine like the 4-4-0 “Sam Hill.” No technology symbolized 19th century America’s industrial and geographical growth better than the railroad, and no locomotive was more common than the 4-4-0.

In the 70 years from 1830 to 1900, rail lines grew from separate local routes connecting port cities with the interior to a dense and interconnected network that linked cities and towns across the continent. Likewise, locomotives grew from diminutive four-wheelers capable of five miles per hour to eight and ten-wheeled engines able to reach 100 miles per hour. But the 4-4-0 offered a special blend of performance and ability that made it particularly popular on American rails.

The 4-4-0 takes its name from the arrangement of its wheels. The four small leading wheels, located in front under the cylinders, help guide the locomotive through curves. The four large driving wheels, connected by rods to the cylinders, move the engine along the track. There are no (or zero) trailing wheels on a 4-4-0, but on larger locomotives trailing wheels help support the weight of the firebox. Continue Reading

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

2011.125.16

The John Clark Racing Photographs collection at The Henry Ford is made up of 35mm color slides taken by John Clark between 1994 and 2000, and covers a number of types of racing, including Indy cars, stock cars, off-road trucks, and motocross motorcycles.  Digital Processing Archivist Janice Unger updated and published the finding aid for this archival collection last year, and as part of that effort, selected some representative images from the collection for digitization.  One particularly dramatic example is this photo of Rod Millen driving a Toyota Tacoma during the 1998 Pikes Peak Hill Climb.  To see some of the other highlights from the John Clark collection, visit our collection website.

Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford.

Racing In America

“Fordillac” – it’s a 1940 Ford powered by a Cadillac V-8, and it represents everything that makes the Detroit Autorama so great.

The snow is melting and the weather is warming (after a particularly frigid February), but the surest sign of spring in the Motor City is the arrival of the Detroit Autorama, the annual gathering of the best in hot rods and custom cars. From March 6-8, more than a thousand vehicles filled Cobo Center. It was exciting, inspiring, and maybe even a little overwhelming.

Greeting visitors at the exhibit hall’s main door were the “Great 8” – the eight finalists for the show’s big Ridler Award. The Ridler honors the best first-time Autorama entry, and the judges’ task is never easy. This year, their choices included everything from a 1937 Ford woody wagon to a 1965 Dodge Dart. Their winner was “The Imposter,” a fantastic 1965 Chevrolet Impala designed by the legendary Chip Foose and owned by Don Voth of Abbotsford, British Columbia. Why the name? This Impala was an imposter – the ’65 body sat atop a 2008 Corvette chassis. Continue Reading