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The Amazing Henry Ford


At the birth home of Henry Ford

"It's all just so amazing, isn't it?" the engineer asked as we stood in the middle of the Ford assembly plant. We watched the machinery and the car parts moving from here to there, from way up high to far down low. We see gigantic, yellow robotic arms gluing windshields onto car frames and forklifts zooming by in front of us, like a video on fast forward. Yes, it was amazing-the assembly line-seeing it work, seeing the place where every single Ford Expedition on the planet is made.


I was amazed from the minute Nick and I slipped off the frozen Detroit highway in Dearborn, Michigan, where the Ford Company, the Henry Ford Museum, the Henry Ford Estate, Ford manufacturing plants, the Centennial Ford Library, Ford's Automobile Hall of Fame, Ford dealerships, Ford trucks, Ford cars, Ford EVERYTHING are located!!! It's like we got sucked into a strange Ford vortex.

Yes, it's true. Nick CAN fly!

Henry Ford was born in Dearborn. Ever since he first saw a steam-powered tractor rolling across the fields of his family's farm, he knew he wanted to be a mechanic. He dreamed of building cars and selling them at a price most people could afford. In 1908, just as his third attempt to open up his own automobile company was two hundred dollars away from bankruptcy, Ford struck gold with the development of the Model T.


Oh no! Out of gas!

The Model T Ford

Ford designed a car that could easily and cheaply be assembled using very simple parts. The car that started off costing $800 soon cost only $260-still a lot of money in those days, but more affordable that $800! Lots of people started buying Fords. There was so much demand for the Model T that Ford opened up an assembly plant to make more Model Ts faster. Soon, his workers were making one car every 90 minutes, instead of one car a day.

How did they do it? Mr. Ford added moving conveyor belts to an assembly line, where workers would complete one specific task before passing the car on to another worker with a different task. That is called mass production-making a lot of something all at the same time. At the Michigan truck plant today, Ford's assembly line has become so advanced and efficient that workers can make 56 trucks every hour!

Stephen and Nick have abandoned their Honda and will now be driving a Model T for the rest of the trek

Henry Ford's automobile company became the largest car manufacturer in the world, and served as a model for companies in other countries to follow. Up to that point in history, commercial goods, such as cars, were all built by craftsmen. When Henry Ford invented mass production, more things were made by machines than by hand. Machines can work faster than people, so more things were made faster. Today, everything from candy bars to bedspreads are made by machines.

Trekker Stephen and Henry Ford, in flesh and bronze

There's one more thing about Henry Ford: he also liked beans! He thought a lot of things could be made out of beans - fans, car, parts, even clothes. That's right-Henry Ford actually wore a soybean suit!!!

Henry Ford would have liked The Odyssey, too. He may have even made a good trekker, because he believed the best thing to do was to experience history. If you ever get to Dearborn, Michigan, visit the Ford museum and see some of the amazing cars he made.


Please email me at: stephen@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Stephen - "You are now entering the Mall of America: You will never return!!!!"
Making A Difference - Does your community need a facelift?
Neda - How many licks does it take to sell you a lollypop?