Posts Tagged greenfield village history
Turn, Turn, Turn
As the story goes, William Ford traveled to Philadelphia for the Centennial Exposition in 1876. William, a farmer from Springwells Township in Wayne County, Mich., took a keen interest in the agricultural displays. One device struck him as particularly useful, a Stover Windmill, or as the Stover Wind Engine Company's advertisement called it, "Stover's Automatic Wind Engine." Continue Reading
Greenfield Village history, Henry Ford, Greenfield Village buildings, Greenfield Village, Ford family, power, agriculture
John Gunsolly operated what is now known as the Gunsolly Carding Mill in Plymouth, Michigan, beginning around 1850. Henry Ford reportedly remembered childhood visits to the mill with his father, delivering wool, and in 1929 he moved the building to Greenfield Village. We’ve just digitized 60 images of the building on its original site and throughout its history in the Village, like this one, showing power loom operation in the building (then called the Plymouth Carding Mill) in 1935. Today, visitors to The Henry Ford can see traditional weaving in action in Liberty Craftworks’ Weaving Shop, itself a former cotton mill. See more images of Gunsolly by visiting our digital collections.
Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford.
by Ellice Engdahl, Greenfield Village history, Greenfield Village buildings, Greenfield Village, digital collections
Does the building shown in this photograph look familiar to you? It might not ring a bell as the “Blacksmith Shop,” but that was its original purpose when it was built in Greenfield Village in 1929—which explains the horse being shod in this photo from the same year. Henry Ford intended the structure to be typical of 19th-century American blacksmith workshops, and had it furnished with equipment from a shop in Lapeer, Mich. Over the years, the building’s function has changed several times: it has been known as the Tinsmith Shop and the Activities Building, and currently it serves as the entrance to the Donald F. Kosch Village Playground. Visit our digital collections to see over 50 more newly-digitized photos of this building at various times in its history, and perhaps next time you visit our playground, you’ll take a second look at its historic entrance.
Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford.
photographs, Greenfield Village history, Greenfield Village buildings, Greenfield Village, digital collections, by Ellice Engdahl
Just Added to Our Digital Collections: Eagle Tavern Images
We’re continuing with the project we started this summer, digitizing materials related to our historic buildings in Greenfield Village. This week, we’ve added images of Eagle Tavern. Today, Eagle Tavern is a great place to have a historically authentic meal or beverage (either temperance or non-temperance). However, when Henry Ford acquired it in 1927 from its original location in Clinton, Michigan, the building was in a state of deep disrepair. This sheet shows this poor condition from a couple of different angles. Visit our collections website to view nearly 100 artifacts depicting or related to Eagle Tavern.
Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford.
Eagle Tavern, Michigan, Greenfield Village history, Greenfield Village buildings, Greenfield Village, food, digital collections, by Ellice Engdahl, beverages
Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory
technology, books, electricity, Thomas Edison, by Marc Greuther, Greenfield Village history, Greenfield Village buildings, Greenfield Village
The Henry Ford has always attracted famous visitors—some of my favorites that are documented in our digital collections include H.G. Wells, Neil Armstrong, and Rosa Parks. But while searching our collections database for something else, I found a name I wasn’t expecting: Lord Mountbatten.
Lord Mountbatten (1900–79) is a fascinating and controversial figure in British and Asian history. The great-grandson of Queen Victoria, he was commissioned as a naval lieutenant in 1920, and held several naval posts during World War II. As supreme allied commander of the Southeast Asia Command, he took Burma from Japanese control, which resulted in an honorary title, Earl Mountbatten of Burma. Continue Reading
travel, 20th century, 1970s, Michigan, Dearborn, Europe, photography, photographs, Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village history, Greenfield Village, by Ellice Engdahl
Over the years, the number of locomotives began to grow. In 1979 the Edison Institute obtained a 1927 Plymouth Gasoline-Mechanical locomotive. The locomotive, built by the Fate-Root-Heath Company of Plymouth, Ohio, had been used to shuttle coal cars at the Mistersky Power Station in Detroit (The Mistersky plant was run by the City of Detroit Power and Light Department until 2010 when it was sold to DTE). It was to be used at Greenfield Village shuttling locomotives and rolling stock.
In 1993 the Edison Institute added a fourth engine to the Perimeter Railroad program. This 1942, 50-ton diesel electric locomotive was manufactured by General Electric in Erie, Penn. It was first used at the United States Naval Ammunition Depot in Charleston, S.C., to shuttle ammunition to the Navy ships during World War II.
The Edison Institute obtained the G.E. locomotive from the Luria Brothers & Co in Ecorse, Mich., where it was being used to switch scrap cars. It was to be used in Greenfield Village to shuttle cars and fill in for the steam locomotives when necessary.
The Detroit & Mackinac Railway Caboose
This Detroit & Mackinac caboose, originally built circa 1912, was probably in service until 1964 when caboose service was ended by that railroad. After its railway service ended, this caboose was displayed in Tawas City Park for five years. The caboose was then taken back to the D & M shops were it was restored and made a prominent display in their own museum.
In 1979 D & M donated the caboose, three other cars and a 1914 Baldwin locomotive to The Henry Ford.
When the D & M caboose (currently undergoing restoration in the Roundhouse) first arrived at Greenfield Village, it was used as an operational member of the Perimeter Railroad program. When in use it was attached behind the regular passenger cars and for a special price guests could ride in the enclosed car and purchase snacks to eat along the way.
The Greenfield Village Water Tower
Between the Smiths Creek Depot and the Roundhouse stands an impressive red structure (Figure 9). That structure is the Greenfield Village Water Tower.
The original water tower for Greenfield Village's railroads was a 1943 gift (Accession 43.36.1) to Henry Ford from the New York Central System. The water tower had been used inside Michigan Central Railroad’s Bay City Junction repair facility in Detroit. The 14,000-gallon water tower was installed in the same location as our current tower sometime in the mid 1950s. Since there was no operational railroad until 1971, it was not functional but part of the Smiths Creek exhibit.
An Oct. 12, 1971, memo indicates the water tower was to be inspected, caulked and repaired as needed for “Perimeter Railroad” operation.
The Michigan Central tower was used for train operations until 1993 when it had become deteriorated to the point it was no longer practical to maintain it. In 1993 a new 39,000 gallon water tower was purchased. The new tower was supplied in kit form from the Rosenwach Tank Company of Long Island City, N.Y.
The old tower was disassembled and the new one was constructed on the same foundation. This tower is still used today to supply water directly to our steam locomotives or through two water columns. The water tower is supplied by city water that is conditioned by two large softener units in the basement of the Smiths Creek Station.
The Firestone Water Column
Water Columns were used to supply water to steam locomotives in areas where space is too limited to have a water tower. This unit (Accession: 2002.171.1) was made by The American Valve and Meter Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. The Firestone water column and one outside the DT&M roundhouse (accession: 93.204.1) are connected to the water tower by pipe. The one pictured is representative of columns produced by American Valve and Meter between 1925 and 1955.
Don LaCombe is Supervisor of the Transportation and Crafts Program at The Henry Ford
by Don LaCombe, Greenfield Village history, Greenfield Village, trains, railroads
In 1974 construction of the Main Street and Suwanee Stations was completed and operational for the season. Main Street was a covered platform intended to provide train access for guests near Greenfield Village’s entrance (Main Street, which was the road leading from the Greenfield Village entrance in that period is what we now call State Street). The third stop near Riverfront Street was a covered platform that facilitated guest access to the new Suwanee Park. Probably because of its close proximity to the new stations, the Smiths Creek Station was no longer used as a train stop.
A fourth train platform near “Gate 14” (or Windmill Gate) was removed from the plan just as overall Greenfield Village construction started.
As a part of the original planning for the perimeter railroad, a facility for maintaining and storing the locomotives was included. This building had been strongly recommended in a report generated by the consulting firm that was contracted to provide a risk assessment and analysis for the new railroad. Interestingly, the main issue in the report was preventing guest access to the locomotive during the off-season as well as maintenance issues.
The Train Maintenance building was completed in October of 1974 and for the first time an on-site facility was available for maintenance work and winter storage of the locomotives. From 1974 to 1982, all train maintenance and repair was handled or directed by the Edison Institute Plumbing Shop Supervisor, Ralph Schumberger (a licensed plumber and boiler engineer).
In 1982, John Scott, a recognized train maintenance expert (who had been working with the Illinois Railroad Museum) was hired to exclusively supervise maintenance of Greenfield Village’s locomotives and rolling stock.
The train crew at this facility tackled more than normal maintenance. Two of the early restoration projects Scott and his crew handled were the reconversion of the two locomotives to coal; the Edison in 1986 and the Torch Lake in 1987.
In early 1990 a study was made to establish if the Torch Lake cab was in fact the one installed by C&H in their 1909/10 rebuild. This investigation included Tom Fisher, from Train Operations, going to Michigan Technical University to review the drawings from C&H (Union Oil had bought up all property rights for the C&H and had donated all the records to Michigan Technical University). The research concluded that it was the 1910 cab. A replacement cab, of the same configuration, was ordered from an outside supplier. At the same time a new smoke stack was built in the shop and the water tank was modified to reflect the 1909/10 configuration.
The new cab was a disappointment. Substandard material was used in the construction and serious deterioration began to appear within a few years. In 2001 Train Operations began making drawings for a new cab. In 2006 a major reconstruction of the cab began at the Roundhouse. Train Operations personnel, with Bill Town and Kirk Brosch of the Carpenter Shop, began rebuilding the cab with appropriate materials. The now-new cab was installed in 2007 and remains in service.
Through the years other aesthetic and functional changes were made to the locomotives and rolling stock to improve their reliability and authenticity. One of the original passenger cars was sold after finding that the company that had rebuilt the car but had left a section of badly deteriorated wood frame underneath some newly added structure.
The adding of the new train stations was not without incident. When the Main Street Station was first completed a trial run was made to check clearances and step-up height. As the locomotive pulled into the station, it was quickly discovered that there was insufficient clearance as pieces of the platform deck began flying across the station.
Gate 14 (now Orange Gate) was finally constructed. The new Susquehanna Station was constructed in that area to provide more convenient guest access to the historic homes on Maple Lane (In 1974 Maple Lane was known as South Dearborn Road), historic base ball games and other events at Walnut Grove.
In 1998, the Riverfront Street (Suwanee Park) Station was being converted to 11th and 12th grade classrooms for the new Henry Ford Academy and was no longer used as a train stop. The train stops for the Perimeter Railroad were now Main Street Station, Susquehanna Station and Smiths Creek Station.
Don LaCombe is Supervisor of Transportation and Crafts Programs at The Henry Ford.
collections care, Greenfield Village history, Greenfield Village, #Behind The Scenes @ The Henry Ford, by Don LaCombe, trains, railroads
In 1971 Henry Ford Museum Administration Management began to implement a new master plan program for significant improvements to support the Museum and Village's upcoming celebration of the United State's Bicentennial. Greenfield Village improvements included construction of a new area called Riverfront Street (later known as Suwanee Park), new or improved visitor amenities, and a railroad that would circle the perimeter of Greenfield Village.
The Perimeter Railroad element of the project included the requirement for two operational locomotives, three new passenger cars, building a train maintenance facility (train shed), and the construction of 2.5 miles of track.
One of the major influences in deciding to develop a Perimeter Railroad was a 1968 presentation given by Edison Institute employee Tom Urban. Urban independently developed a plan and went as far as hiring an airplane with his own money to take aerial pictures of the Village. The photographer for this venture was a young man by the name of Rudy Ruzicska - our current photographer. These pictures were used by Urban in a presentation to Finance Director Lyle Hughes to demonstrate the feasibility for the routing of the railroad. Hughes was so impressed he set up a meeting with other members of senior staff to present the proposal.
Hughes’ proposal was well received and a study was started to see how to make the plan a reality. Leslie Henry (Curator of Transportation) began a study that included a number of options. Some of those options were: purchasing and moving a complete functioning railroad (with four miles of track), leasing the locomotives and cars or obtaining our own locomotives and building a railroad from scratch.
One of Henry’s inquiries during his study was to contact the Northern Peninsula mining company about an 1873 Mason-Fairlie locomotive. The Calumet & Hecla Mining Company was in the process of celebrating their 100th anniversary and had the 1873 locomotive on display in Calumet, Mich. After the celebration ended C&H agreed to donate the locomotive to The Edison Institute where it would be restored and maintained in running condition.
The restoration of the Torch Lake was to be completed in 1971 for exclusive use in an interim ride known as the One-Way Railroad. For the following year it would become the secondary locomotive for the next phase of the plan, the Perimeter Railroad.
For the primary locomotive it was decided to take the Mason #1 locomotive out of the museum and make it operational.
The Mason #1 was originally a wood-burning 0-4-0 locomotive built by the Manchester Locomotive Works in Manchester, N.H., in the 1870s. Ford purchased the locomotive and tender from the Edison Cement Corporation in 1932.
After the purchase, Ford had the locomotive sent to the Ford Rouge Shops were it was rebuilt and significantly modified to its current 4-4-0 configuration. Additionally, the boiler was enlarged and the sand dome was moved forward. The tender was rebuilt and appears to be in its original configuration.
After the restoration/modification of the locomotive and tender was completed, it was moved into Henry Ford Museum and put on display with the number plate and designation of “Mason #1.”
The Edison Institute did not have the facilities to complete the work necessary to make Mason #1 functional, so bids were requested. Keystone Products of Pittsburgh, Penn., was selected to repair the Mason #1 (Edison) locomotive and tender as well as construct three passenger cars that would be built on used chassis that Keystone would purchase.
The Mason #1 (Edison) and tender were transported by trailer to the Keystone plant in December of 1971. The contract called for replacement of the boiler, rebuilding of the compressor, governor gauge, locomotive/train valves and brakes on the tender. The Edison at that time was oil fired and the fire pan, burner, damper, fire clay lining and oil tank were to be rebuilt. The schedule for the Mason #1 restoration was that all work would be completed and the locomotive and tender would be operational by March 31, 1972.
The construction of the three-passenger cars was a less-than-straight forward process with many design options being discussed throughout the construction. Two of the cars were to be built from existing chassis and a third was going to be built on a soon-to-be purchased obsolete caboose. These cars were to be added to the three already built by Crown Metals for the 1971 One-Way Railroad.
In October of 1971 the landscaping architectural firm of Ecbo, Dean Austin & Williams (EDAW) was given approval to begin developing landscaping plans for the new track. EDAW, located in Los Angeles, Calif., was a highly respected firm with national recognition for their cultural landscaping efforts with universities and national parks.
The architectural firm of Nordstrom-Sampson & Associates from Dearborn was contracted for development of the track layout and grading. Additionally, an engineer from the DT&I railroad was acting as a consultant to N-S&A. Thomas P. McEvilly of N-S&A was chosen as the field superintendent for the project.
The Edison Institute retained Herb Rosenthal and Associates, Inc., as the designers for the new Perimeter Railroad. This project included the track system, a covered platform near Main Street (now Firestone Station), a covered platform at the Riverfront Street area (this platform is now a part of the Henry Ford Academy campus) and a platform at the east end of the Village area. The later platform was removed from the contract just as overall construction was to begin.
The Walter L. Couse Company of Detroit was awarded the contract to build the roadbed and lay the track. In all 12 companies were involved in the project’s construction.
The master plan called for the railroad to be fully functional no later than July 4, 1972. It is unclear if the original intent was to have the new platforms completed by this date, but their actual construction would not be completed until the 1974 season.
Work progressed on the tracks and the roadbed throughout the spring and early summer. Existing water lines, sewers, and gas lines had to be moved as well as filling in some soft clay areas with compacted sand backfill. Several weeks of exceptionally wet weather served to slow progress and put the scheduled July 4 completion date in jeopardy.
In late June track and roadbed construction had progressed to the point where a trial run from Smiths Creek over to the Main Street area was conducted. This run served to identify a number of issues with the curves, rails and switches and the contractors were instructed to make immediate corrections. It was also determined that the public opening of the railroad would need to be postponed to Aug. 23, 1972.
By early August work had progressed to the point where a test trip of the complete 2.5 miles could be conducted. On Aug. 9 the Torch Lake was fired up, cars were attached and a small crew of employees and management rode around the complete perimeter of the Village. (Although the original plan called for the Mason #1 to be the primary locomotive, for some reason the Torch Lake was given that role for the inaugural run even though Mason #1 was on the grounds.) There were a number of issues with the rails, ties and ballast, but not enough to postpone the rescheduled public opening.
The inaugural trip for the Perimeter Railroad was on Tuesday, Aug. 22, when the three cars were loaded with specially invited guests at Smiths Creek Station. The Torch Lake then pulled the consist up to the Main Street crossing were it waited while then-Edison Institute President Dr. Donald Shelley and Board Chairman William Clay Ford drove in the final spikes (painted gold) with chrome plated spike mauls.
The Perimeter Railroad began regular service the following day offering 18 trips around Greenfield Village with each trip lasting about 20 minutes. This schedule provided for a capacity of 3,500 riders per day. For at least the first year of operation, Smiths Creek would be the only stop.
Engineers Frank Petroski (formerly New York Central) and Ivan D. Mead (formerly Grand Trunk Western), who were engineers for the One-Way Railroad, were back to alternate duties on the Perimeter Railroad.
The total number of riders for that first year was 154,761, which were 66,516 more rides than the One-Way railroad had the previous year.
Don LaCombe is Supervisor of Transportation & Crafts Programs at The Henry Ford.
by Don LaCombe, #Behind The Scenes @ The Henry Ford, Greenfield Village history, Greenfield Village, trains, railroads
Greenfield Village's One-Way Railroad
Today’s post comes to us from Don LaCombe, our Supervisor of Transportation and Crafts Programs at The Henry Ford. Don has been documenting the history of all-things train-related at The Henry Ford. Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing his articles here on the blog.
In November of 1969 a gift from the Universal Oil Products arrived at Greenfield Village. That gift was a locomotive once used by the Calumet & Hecla (C&H) Mining Company in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. C&H Mining was a Boston, Mass.-based organization that was also a key player in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula copper mining. The Torch Lake, built in 1873 at the Mason Machine Works, Taunton, Mass. (factory #518), was initially used for switching and periodically on the C&H main line (until 1885); then exclusively as a switcher in the company yards. The Torch Lake is the last-known Mason-Fairlie locomotive in the world. The Mason Machine works had built more than 700 of these locomotives (mostly narrow gauge) that had a unique “bogie” system that allowed the wheel trucks to swivel under the locomotive when turning. This had the advantage of allowing the engine to make sharper turns-a distinct advantage when negotiating railroad tracks in the Upper Peninsulas “copper country.”
The last time the Torch was fired-up by the Calumet & Hecla Mining Co. was in 1933. Being the last of their steam locomotives and after 50 years of service, it was decided to place the Torch Lake in indefinite storage. The locomotive had to be towed on the mainline part of its journey to storage due to it not having air brakes. When the main line portion of the trip was completed, it was left on a siding at Lake Linden. The boiler was fired up and it continued under its own power. As they crossed a bridge and main highway on the way to Ahmeek, Mich., engineer Edward Carter blew a long whistle thinking this would be the last steam train whistle heard in the Keweenaw Peninsula. It was placed in a storage shed at the C & H facility in Ahmeek, drained of water and left there untouched until 1966.
That same year the Torch Lake was pulled out of the shed and towed to Calumet, Mich., to become part of the Calumet & Hecla Centennial. The train was cleaned, painted and put on display. After the Centennial, C & H offered the locomotive to the Edison Institute (now The Henry Ford) as a gift.
The train was to be used for a new ride known as “The One-Way Railroad.” The Torch Lake arrived at Greenfield Village in November of 1970 (shown in the featured photo), but before it could be put in service at Greenfield Village the boiler had to be replaced as it could no longer pass state inspection. This kept the locomotive out of action for a year. During this time, the Johnston Brothers, Inc., of Ferrysburg, Mich., were contracted to replicate the boiler, firebox and steam dome. The new boiler was delivered in June of 1971, installed here, and the Torch Lake was converted from its original wood burning to being oil fired.
On July 3, 1971, the Torch Lake was fired up for its maiden run at Greenfield Village. With a consist of three open passenger cars, the train would run along a half-mile track from Smiths Creek up to the duck pond behind the Ford Engine Engineering building (later known as the POEE building). To return, they backed the train to Smiths Creek where they would unload and load passengers. That first day the train carried 900 passengers.
The three passenger cars were retired Soo Line oil tank cars that were rebuilt and converted to carrying passengers with decks and seating fabricated by Crown Metal Products in Wyano, Penn. Each car had seats for 70 passengers. The cars were covered with a curved metal roof and the sides were open to allow easy entrance and exit.
Passengers got off and on the train from a raised wooden platform that was located by the Smiths Creek Station approximately where the current platform is located.
Engineers for the Greenfield Village railroad were recruited from a list of retired railroad engineers provided by railroad companies. The first engineers were Frank Petrosky, formerly of the New York Central, and Ivan D. Meade, formerly of the Grand Trunk Western.
The train operated from July 3 to Sept. 12, 1971 (67 days), and during that period provided steam train rides to 80,447 guests. The train ran from 11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and there was no set schedule. When they felt enough people were on the train they made the 12-minute trip.
There is no information that indicates that the One-Way Railroad operated in 1972. In August of 1972 the One-Way railroad ride was replaced by a new 2.5 mile “Perimeter” railroad ride.
1. Universal Oil Products (U.O.P) is a multinational corporation primarily involve in petroleum production and development of oil drilling technology. U.O.P. had purchased Calumet & Hecla Mining in 1968.
2. What they couldn’t know at the time was that steam locomotives would be heard again decades later (1960-1971) for Keweenaw Centrals’ scenic tours of the area.
3. Ahmeek is located in Keweenaw County which is the most northern county in Michigan.
4. The boiler that was removed from the Torch Lake after it arrived here is on display in the A&S Yard.
5. Initial instructions to Crown metal Products was for cars capable of 50 passengers but it appears that this was modified and the cars as delivered were capable of carrying up to 70 passengers.
Greenfield Village history, Greenfield Village, by Don LaCombe, trains, railroads