During his 1927 summer retreat to Seal Harbor, Maine, Edsel Ford spent time having discussions with his neighbor John D. Rockefeller Jr. on the importance of the national parks to the American public. One year before, in 1926, Arno B. Cammerer, then Associate Director of the National Park Service, had initiated his career-defining project of establishing numerous national parks in the Eastern United States when Congress authorized the National Park Service's Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah park proposals. At the time, Lafayette National Park, now Acadia National Park, was the only park east of the Mississippi and despite growing travel to western parks, Cammerer was concerned that only a very small portion of those living east of the Mississippi would ever have the time or the money to visit them.
Realizing that there were millions of people in "the congested areas of the East who never will see the western parks," Cammerer helped the National Park Service establish an unofficial commission composed of park experts to ascertain whether there were lands in the East that would meet the National Park Service standards. The commission, partly funded by John D. Rockefeller Jr., focused on the Southern Appalachian Mountain region, concluding that the lands that would eventually make up the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park should be set aside for the American public. West of the Mississippi, parks could be easily carved out of large public land holdings. In the East, however, a majority of land was privately held which meant that although these Eastern park projects had been authorized in 1926, they could not be fully established until a majority of the land in the planned areas had been bought by the state and deeded to the U.S. government. Cammerer soon realized that land purchasing financed by state funding and small public donations would not be enough to make the Eastern park project a reality.
Several popular tourist stops in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park appear on this pennant. THF238700
To remedy the funding problem, Cammerer again turned to one of the wealthiest men in America and the largest benefactor of the East's first national park, John D. Rockefeller Jr. After helping to fund the commission, Rockefeller Jr. had previously mentioned to Cammerer that he was very much interested in continuing his support of the Eastern national parks project. This prompted Cammerer to write him in the beginning of August 1927 at Rockefeller Jr.'s Seal Harbor home, "The Eyrie." Cammerer's letter explained that while he had intended for public donations to be split fifty-fifty between the Great Smoky Mountain project and the Shenandoah project, the Great Smoky Mountains project was further along and more time-sensitive, as some of the lands set aside for the project were being clear-cut of their primitive forests before being sold. Securing the land for the Great Smoky Mountains project had become the utmost priority.
Expressing that the potential Great Smoky Mountains park “appeals to him more than any national park," Cammerer also enclosed photographs in his letter that he thought illustrated the “wonderful scenic character of the country proposed for inclusion in the park.” In Seal Harbor, Rockefeller Jr. brought the issue to the attention of his philanthropic partner, neighbor, and avid photographer, Edsel Ford. Sparking an interest with Edsel to contribute to the project, Rockefeller Jr. relayed to Cammerer that Edsel would possibly be willing to donate, spurring Cammerer to contact Edsel in the beginning of September 1927. In his letter to Edsel, Cammerer added, “I am taking the liberty to enclose a considerable number of photographs showing the superb scenic qualities of the region, which Mr. Rockefeller also has seen, which I believe Mrs. Ford and you will enjoy looking over."
Over the course of September 1927, Cammerer kept sending Edsel information on the Eastern parks project, reiterating that the Great Smoky Mountains park in Tennessee and North Carolina continued to be the top priority. He also explained that the land required for the Shenandoah park consisted of mostly Virginian farmland and would take much longer to acquire. Luckily, the proposed Shenandoah park would include part of the Shenandoah Valley, which happened to be the birthplace of Harry F. Byrd, the Governor of Virginia at the time. The son of a wealthy apple grower from the Shenandoah Valley, Governor Byrd supported the idea of establishing a national park in his state and worked to make it a reality. Governor Byrd's brother, Admiral Richard E. Byrd, also happened to be a world-renowned explorer, pioneering aviator, and friend of Edsel Ford. Edsel would be responsible for helping to fund Richard Byrd's expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic, including convincing Rockefeller Jr. to aid in funding the latter.
Running the entire length of Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive offers 105 miles of scenic views along the Shenandoah Blue Ridge. This souvenir pennant depicts the 670-foot-long Mary's Rock Tunnel -- the only tunnel on the drive. THF239213
Rockefeller Jr. wrote Edsel from Seal Harbor at the end of September looking for a decision, noting that the Great Smoky Mountains project still needed money to purchase land and that Edsel had “expressed an interest in this project" when Rockefeller Jr. saw him in Seal Harbor a few weeks ago. Rockefeller sent him a copy of his pledge hoping that his letter of gift might be suggestive to the amount of money Edsel would donate. Edsel responded the same day saying, "I feel like I would like to help in this great undertaking," but financial obligations like a new home and other philanthropic efforts required him to donate "less than I would like to do if the circumstances were otherwise." Nonetheless, Edsel was "very glad to contribute $50,000 dollars" to the Great Smoky Mountains project and also would "be very glad to consider increasing" the pledge the next year if additional funds were needed.
In this letter from Edsel Ford to Rockefeller Jr., Edsel mentions his various other philanthropic activities, including an explanation on how important Richard Byrd's South Pole expedition will be. Due to Edsel's convincing justification above, Rockefeller Jr. would later help fund Byrd's expedition.THF255218
On October 6th, referring to their new partnership in funding the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Rockefeller Jr. wrote Edsel saying, “It is particularly gratifying to me that we are to be associated together with it." By November of 1927, Edsel had contacted Cammerer to declare that he intended to subscribe $50,000 to help establish the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which Cammerer graciously accepted. In February 1928 though, the Great Smoky Mountains project hit delays. Lagging fundraising meant that the lands designated for the park, which had yet to be acquired, were still under constant threat of being logged and needed to be procured immediately. The only public pledges to the park had been the ones made by Edsel and Rockefeller Jr. For the park to go forward, five million dollars would need to be raised in order to match the five million dollars in state funds already set aside to buy land for the park. With Edsel's pledge of $50,000 and Rockefeller Jr.'s pledge of $1,000,000, they had fallen well short of that goal.
Edsel Ford's signed letter to Arno B. Cammerer, stating that he is interested in contributing to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park project that Rockefeller Jr. had brought to his attention. THF255210
With time being of the essence, Rockefeller Jr. wrote Edsel with his proposed solution to the problem. The trustees of the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial, a fund established by Rockefeller Jr.'s father in memory of his mother and headed by Rockefeller Jr., decided that an enterprise of this kind would have made a "very strong appeal" to Mrs. Rockefeller. The foundation would cover the entire five million dollars needed to match the state funds, helping to acquire all of the land needed to establish the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With the total cost covered for the first park, Rockefeller Jr. suggested that Edsel transfer his donation over to the Shenandoah project, to which Edsel obliged.
While Edsel admitted that he had not taken a deeper look into the Shenandoah National Park project, he did accompany his family on a 1921 camping trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Maryland, a location less than hundred miles north of Shenandoah and geographically similar. Possible memories from this trip could have also played a role in Edsel's decision to donate to Shenandoah. THF255214
On February 28th, 1928, Edsel withdrew his pledge to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and promptly informed Cammerer that he would be transferring the same pledge over to the Shenandoah National Park fund. Rockefeller Jr. sent a letter thanking Edsel for his understanding and the transfer, ending the note with, “Looking forward to the reunion of our summer colony at Seal Harbor.” Cammerer also sent a letter thanking Edsel for his cooperation, noting, "There is nothing finer available in the East than these two areas selected for national park establishment and this is the psychological time, as the history of our country goes, to still procure these outstanding scenic beauty spots for the millions who will not have a chance to see the western wonderlands reserved in the national park system." Rockefeller Jr. would also contribute to the Shenandoah National Park fund as well.
This letter illustrates the pivotal role that Seal Harbor, Maine played in the friendship of Rockefeller Jr. and Edsel Ford. THF255212
In 1932, the state of Virginia began to collect the pledges that had been made to the Shenandoah National Park fund. Edsel reaffirmed his interest in this philanthropic endeavor with a letter to the Governor of Virginia saying, "It has been a great pleasure to contribute" to the fund. By 1935, Shenandoah had officially been established as a national park and, in 1936, they held a dedication ceremony to which Edsel was invited. Unfortunately, Edsel was leaving for Europe soon, which he explained to Cammerer, but his good friend Rockefeller Jr. was able to send a transcript of the dedication speech given by Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes. Part of the speech thanked Edsel for his contribution.
A page from Harold L. Ickes' Shenandoah National Park dedication speech. Named Secretary of the Interior by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ickes held the position for thirteen years from 1933 to 1946. Known for being brutally honest, tough, and sharp-tongued, Ickes worked with Arno B. Cammerer to dramatically increase national park land even though the two constantly quarreled. THF255228
Ryan Jelso is Associate Curator, Digital Content, at The Henry Ford.
Expedia Viewfinder and The Henry Ford teamed up to discuss some of the best places to visit.
Henry Ford’s invention of the Model T put Americans in the driver’s seat. His affordable automobile made everything from running errands and commuting to work to taking Sunday drives and embarking on road trips possible for ordinary people. The Model T transformed the way Americans traveled and paved the road for the future of vehicles.
Expedia Viewfinder discovered that Henry Ford Museum refreshed its Driving America exhibit not too long ago, and we got to thinking about how these antique vehicles have contributed to our own opportunities for modern-day travel. With a set of wheels, we can tour unique corners of the country and witness unrivaled beauty at our leisure. Since it was Henry Ford who made road tripping possible in the first place, it only seemed fitting to partner up with The Henry Ford, home of the country’s premier automotive museum, to discuss some of our favorite routes and roadside attractions.
Some of the nation’s most scenic areas are best viewed from behind the steering wheel with the windows rolled down. So on your next open-road adventure, buckle up, rev your engine, and cruise over to these must-see attractions:
The first complete Moog Synthesizer with modules, built by Robert A. Moog, 1964 (Object ID: 82.68.1).
What does a Moog synthesizer sound like? The word itself is often mispronounced. Moog sounds nothing like the moo-ing of a cow. I was guilty of this faux-pas myself for many years until I was chastised by a musician friend: “No! Not like the cow! Moog rhymes with vogue!” When the experimental composer Herbert Deutsch first met Bob Moog, he told him that he wanted an instrument that didn’t exist. He said he wanted something that could “make these sounds that go wooo-wooo-ah-woo-woo.” Moog’s electrical engineering skills and openness to collaboration played well alongside Deutsch’s musical engineering talents. And so, as they developed the instrument together, the short version of the story is that Deutsch began to hear the first signs of his “wooo”’s and “ah”’s in July of 1964. By October, Deutsch was composing electronic music on the first complete Moog prototype – the very same synthesizer that was eventually acquired for our collections here at The Henry Ford.
Love for the Moog continues today, evidenced by the recent celebration of its 50th Anniversary at Moogfest 2014: The Synthesis of Technology, Art & Music. I was privileged to be able to attend this festival, and to meet the foundational members behind the history of synthesized music, to hear presentations by people influenced by Bob Moog and his legacy, and to participate in demonstrations alongside current visionaries in the field of technology and sound.
Music to the engineering world’s ears would align the Moog synthesizer’s best qualities as coming from its feats of interior technology: electronically generated sounds, driven by voltage-controlled transistor technology, organized into standardized modules, oscillators, and a keyboard. I promise I won’t go too far down this technical rabbit hole, because while this history was absolutely crucial to its invention, I believe that the legacy of the Moog synthesizer is rooted in what it can do, and what is has done, rather than what it is. In a world that is saturated by creative invention (and equally rapid obsolescence), it is often difficult to imagine there being enough space left for something truly original and lasting. But Bob Moog’s synthesizer was pure innovation: no one had ever heard anything like the sounds it produced.
So while I’m doing a roundabout job of describing what the Moog sounds like, I’m comfortable in assuming that you have probably heard it, and perhaps not realized it. While Wendy Carlos’ 1968 classical application of the instrument in “Switched on Bach” is considered to be the first commercially successful Moog recording, its use quickly branched into popular music: The Beatles’ Abbey Road, Kraftwerk’s Autobahn, and Giorgio Moroder’s production on Donna Summer’s disco hit “Love to Love You Baby.” Musicians working today love the Moog because it supports organic experimentation and seemingly limitless sound potential, distilled down into a portable instrument with a physical interface. In spite of the widespread availability of computer-based music programs, many performers are choosing to return to analog instruments. Clicking buttons on a laptop is simply less satisfying than making a physical patch with a cord. Signals travel from one patch port to the next, travelling over wires, producing otherworldly sounds.
Moogfest attendees logged many hours of play on UM Projects’ theremins (left); thereminist Dorit Chrysler kicks off the festival at Pack Place Lobby, April 23, 2014 (right).
Daily performances by Dorit Chrysler were played out among the custom-built theremins by François Chambard of Odd Harmonics / UM Projects. In addition to being considered one of the world’s preeminent thereminists, Chrysler is also one of the founding members of the New York Theremin Society. Attendees were welcome to try their hand at playing the theremins during the open play hours. Most people (this curator included) were shocked to find out how difficult it was to get any sense of control out of the oddball instrument.
Mark Frauenfelder, editor-in-chief of Make Magazine, introduces the creative powerhouses that will appear in Make Magazine’s day-long panel (right); Nic Collin’s Tall Poppies film showed how simple contact microphones could be used creatively, to amplify the sound of the metal rods of fireworks sparklers. Watch (and listen!) here.
Make Magazine’s lineup for a day-long session did not disappoint. Tom Zimmerman, Master Inventor working within IBM’s Research Division, opened the floor by discussing his career in the foundations of human-machine interaction. His first patent was for the Data Glove, the same technology that helped to support early efforts in the Virtual Reality arena. His recent inventions have included digital tracking devices that alert a control center when endangered sea-turtle eggs are hatching, and Project Autobahn, a system to convert the mechanical data of a Ford automobile into music. Zimmerman’s passion for the importance of STEAM (that’s STEM + Art) education is clear, as he shared his mantra: “Hands-on wins, hands down.”
Jay Silver of Joylabz and Intel demonstrated the abilities of his creative platforms Makey Makey and Drawdio. With these devices, the world essentially becomes an electrical, interactive playground: you can turn your kitchen sink into a theremin, or make a working video game controller out of Play-Doh.
Nic Collins, author of the influential book Handmade Electronic Music, spoke about his career trajectory through the avant-garde music scene of New York in the 1970s to his current position as Professor in the Department of Sound at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. When he first arrived at SAIC, he realized that his students were “digitally saturated,” and that they were hungry to learn about the messiness of analog circuitry. Collins shared his knowledge of circuitry, ultimately sparking off a riotous revolution in sound-making and art at his popular workshops. A favorite moment was Collins’ description of his Tall Poppies project in which he built microphones to capture the sound of sparkler fireworks burning down and cooling – from the inside.
Forest Mims III has written over 60 books, many of them well known to Makers and electrical enthusiasts. His books Getting Started in Electronics and the Engineer’s Mini-Notebook series for Radio Shack have sold millions of copies and sparked off generations of garage workbench tinkerers in the process. Mims recounted his work over the years: the “Jokes That Bomb” noisemaker for the Johnny Carson Show, the Atari Punk Console, and infrared travel aid glasses to safely direct the blind. In 1975, Mims also wrote the very first manual for a home computer, the Altair 8800, manufactured by his company, MITS.
The vocoder began as a room-sized interface called SIGSALY, equipped with two turntables that are suspiciously reminiscent of the performance setups that hip-hop DJs would later use (left, image courtesy of the Audio Engineering Society); Douglas Vakoch (right) of the SETI Institute spoke as part of the Science Fiction & Synthesized Sound workshop presented by OMNI Reboot.
The overwhelming amount of incredible speakers to choose from found me session-hopping for the remainder of the festival. Favorites included hearing the history of the vocoder unfold through the captivating and humorous expertise of Dave Tompkins. His book, How to Wreck a Nice Beach, traces the vocoder from its beginnings as the behemoth SIGSALY, a WWII-era speech encrypting device, to its diminutive (but no less impactful presence) into its days of being harnessed for science-fiction film and television, and eventually bleeding over into robotically-inflected effects used in hip hop and electronic music.
Douglas Vakoch, Director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute, spoke in depth about the history and content of “goodwill messages,” those inscribed pictorial plaques sent into space onboard Pioneer and Explorer spacecraft. The Institute continues this type of highly coordinated communication through their Earth Speaks project. Using crowd-sourced contributions, SETI invites people to submit pictures and text to be broadcast in the event that an extraterrestrial civilization is ever detected. The themes they ask contributors to respond to related to what it means to be human, and the provocation: “Should we reply, and if so, what should we say?”
Module synthesizers continue to be designed and crafted by hand at the Moog Factory in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. In a surprise unveiling, the factory wowed the crowd with a painstakingly recreated version of Keith Emerson’s iconic instrument. This engineering feat took three years to complete, and is a powerhouse of workmanship and commitment to the vintage synth spirit, from hand-soldered circuit boards to photo-etched aluminum designs.
The new Emerson Moog Modular System, unveiled at the Moog Factory (left); Herbert Deutsch and Kristen Gallerneaux talk about all things Moog (right).
I was also honored to be able to spend some time talking to Herbert Deutsch himself in his down time between performances. Suffice to say, Deutsch’s role as collaborative advisor in the development of the synthesizer meant that he was well-armed with amazing stories and information about our artifact. I will look forward to revealing some of these in a future blog post. At his lecture, “From Moog to Mac,” Deutsch performed early compositions from the heyday of Moog experimentation, including music that was originally created on The Henry Ford’s own synthesizer.
When Deutsch played a recording of a correspondence tape from 1963, sent to him by Bob Moog, the audience fell silent. Above the stunned hush, we heard the first sounds of the synthesizer, and Moog himself, jokingly calling his invention “the old Abominatron,” warning Deutsch, “It doesn’t sound like much when I play it, but maybe somehow, someone with a bit more musicianship and imagination can get some good things out of it…”
Kristen Gallerneaux is Curator of Communications and Information Technology at The Henry Ford. Be on the lookout for sound and synthesis-related events at this year’s Maker Faire Detroit, July 26-27!
The Henry Ford’s 1965 Mustang Serial #1 and 1962 Mustang I concept car were honored guests at a pair of simultaneous events honoring the pony car’s golden anniversary in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Las Vegas, Nevada. The four-day celebrations, hosted by the Mustang Club of America with close cooperation from Ford Motor Company, brought together cars, owners and fans from around the world to commemorate one of the most influential and enduring automobiles.
The Charlotte event, held at Charlotte Motor Speedway, opened in grand fashion on April 17. Fifty years to the day after Henry Ford II introduced the Mustang at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, current Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford unveiled the 50th Anniversary Edition 2015 Ford Mustang. Limited to 1,964 units, the 50th Anniversary car comes fully loaded but available in just two colors: Kona Blue and Wimbledon White – the latter something of a nod to Serial #1’s paint.
Other distinguished guests in Charlotte included Ford Board Member Edsel Ford II, Ford Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields, the 1965 Mustang Design Chief Gale Halderman, and current Mustang Chief Engineer Dave Pericak. Retired Chicago-area school teacher Gail Wise enjoyed a unique fame at the event. On April 15, 1964, she purchased a Skylight Blue Mustang convertible – making her the first Mustang buyer in the United States. She still owns the car today, which also makes her the senior-most original owner. Gail and her convertible posed for countless photos with Mustang fans over the four-day party.
I had the privilege of joining Serial #1 in Charlotte. As I spoke with visitors, nearly every one of them was familiar with the car’s story. In fact, many had seen Serial #1 before, either at The Henry Ford or at a previous show. My favorite reaction was from members of the Montreal Mustang Club. Upon seeing Serial #1 with its Newfoundland license plates, they immediately shouted “Captain Tucker! Captain Tucker!” – referring to their fellow Canadian, the airline pilot who inadvertently purchased the car in April 1964.
The sister celebration at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was even more international in tone. While Ford has never directly sold the Mustang overseas (until the 2015 model, that is), this hasn’t stopped the car from winning fans abroad. Our Mustang I concept car brought smiles to the faces of Mustang club members from Sweden, France, Switzerland and Brazil, among other nations. Special guests in Las Vegas included Ford Sales Zone Manager Henry Ford III, Ford COO Mark Fields (yes, the busy Fields visited both celebrations), and former Ford Special Projects Assistant Hal Sperlich. Along with Ford Vice-President Lee Iacocca and Ford Product Manager Don Frey, Sperlich is one of the key people who brought the Mustang into being 50 years ago. He was given a hero’s welcome by the fans gathered in Nevada.
Mustang owners and enthusiasts at both events enjoyed various activities. Souvenir stands sold Mustang merchandise of all descriptions. Vendors and swap meet participants sold parts for Mustangs from every vintage. Mustang historians gave presentations on the car’s debut and evolution. Owners with performance cars took laps around the tracks. And then there were the cars themselves – thousands of Mustangs filled and surrounded the venues in Charlotte and Las Vegas.
By the time each event wrapped up on April 20, new friendships were formed, the latest version of the pony car was revealed to the world, and a passion for the Mustang had been ignited in the young visitors who will take the car into its next generations. I’ll bet a few of them are already dreaming about 2064!
Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford
On August 11, 1909, as his ship struggled off Cape Hatteras, telegraph operator Theodore Haubner had an urgent choice to make: How should he call for help?
Haubner worked the key on the commercial steamship S.S. Arapahoe. His ship had just broken her propeller shaft and was drifting off the North Carolina coast.
For years, ships in trouble had used the telegraph code “CQD,” which means “calling all stations—distress.” But a new code for distress had recently been agreed upon: “SOS.” Would anyone recognize it?
Deciding to split the difference, Haubner signaled SOS as well as CQD—and his ship was picked up just twelve hours later.
Haubner had sent the world’s first SOS signal. He later donated his headphones and telegraph key to The Henry Ford, where they are now on exhibit in our Driving America exhibit.
Wireless telegraphy, perfected only a decade earlier by inventor and entrepreneur Guglielmo Marconi, used radio waves to connect ships with one another as well as with stations on land. In 1904, CQD was adopted by Marconi Company wireless telegraph operators as their emergency signal.
But an international industry would need an internationally standardized emergency signal. At the second International Radiotelegraphic Convention in Berlin, in 1906, participants agreed on SOS as the international distress signal. They chose SOS not because it was an abbreviation for any particular distress call (it does not stand for “save our ship,” as many have thought), but because it was easy to send and receive - three dots, three dashes, three dots. When the Arapahoe was drifting, the signal was just coming into use.
So why are these telegraph artifacts in an exhibit on cars?
When Haubner sent that first SOS in 1909, American culture was adjusting to a feeling of new, wider horizons. Wireless telegraphy was one of many technological marvels making their way into culture and, more slowly, into everyday life. Another of those marvels was the automobile.
Driving America puts cars into the context of these new visions of the future - this optimism that new technology, standardized across the world, could do anything.
Saving a ship was only the beginning.
Suzanne Fischer is the Associate Curator of Technology at The Henry Ford. She typed this post on an 1880s index typewriter and sent it to the blog editor via telex.