Monthly Archives: September 2019

More Exploring Near Lake Michigan – Biking, Lighthouses and More

View of Lake Michigan from Alligator Hill

Hiking and biking are popular along Lake Michigan and the Sleeping Bear Dunes area and I did a little of each during our stay there. I loved the view from the Bluff Trail that I talked about in a previous post and I found another hike with a different view at the top of Alligator Hill. The blue waters of Lake Michigan surrounded by what looked like tropical greenery took my breath away.

Conundrum Cafe

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has a paved biking trail that goes through much of the Park traveling through forests, the historic village of Glen Haven and past the Dune Climb area. I liked my day biking this path, but my favorite was the Betsie Valley Trail located a 30 minute drive away near the town of Frankfort. This rail trail goes 22 miles and I was lucky to find a bike rental shop right next to the trail in the small village of Elberta. This is a one stop kind of place where you can eat at the cafe, shop for souvenirs or specialty food items, rent a bike, kayak or even get your bike repaired. The place also has a catchy name, “Conundrum” Cafe.

Betsie Valley Trail
Crystal Lake

I rode through the historic town of Frankfort on Lake Michigan where I saw the sandy dunes, a popular beach and a view of Frankfort Light located on the breakwater. The trail continued under lots of tree cover passing the Betsie River and on to Crystal Lake, the best part of this trip. Like most lakes I have seen in Michigan it is a beauty and as crystal clear as its name. I couldn’t resist riding off the trail close to the lake shore to admire the water’s clarity. Although there are areas of the Lake open to the public, I passed a number of homes with private lake front property. There were boat docks, lawns and sandy beaches where people had put out chairs, tables, fire pits and volleyball courts. It was a beautiful setting to ride next to – there are some lucky individuals who have this watery paradise to vacation next to and enjoy.

Private beach on Crystal Lake
View of Crystal Lake from Betsie Valley Trail

After my ride I drove to the Point Betsie Lighthouse which sits on the shore of Lake Michigan. At 3,288 miles, Michigan has the longest freshwater coastline in the lower 48 states. So it is not surprising that with around 140, it has the most lighthouses of any state. Since I really enjoy seeing lighthouses, I think it would be fun to travel around the state and see as many as possible, but alas, we didn’t have that kind of time to spend.

Point Betsie Lighthouse

Point Betsie completed in 1858 is a popular lighthouse and people enjoy not only touring the light but also playing at the adjacent beach. I like the setting of this lighthouse but I think the black retaining wall (bottom left of photo below) takes away some from the natural beauty. I think the building is lovely though. I didn’t have time to tour inside so I enjoyed the views from the outside.

One day Mark and I took a drive up the Leelanau Peninsula which is north of Traverse City. At the town of Leland we stopped to explore the historic Fishtown district. Situated on the Leland River are small fishing shanties and other gray weatherbeaten buildings which now are eateries and shops. It is an atmospheric place and the river was so high that it lapped over the walk ways and decks of some of the buildings. A family of ducks had even made a nest against one of the buildings. There were several boats docked as fishing is still a popular pastime here. We had lunch at a seafood restaurant with a view of the river and a small dam spillway.

Leland’s Fishtown
Leland’s Fishtown
Mark relaxing in the town of Leland
Leland River

We drove to the tip of the Peninsula where we found Grand Traverse Lighthouse built in 1858. I visited the museum inside but did not venture up the stairs to the tower. Those winding, open lighthouse stairs continue to not be good for those of us afraid of heights. The level of Lake Michigan is high and there was was no beach to be found near the lighthouse, just clumps of bushes standing in the water at the rocky shoreline.

Grand Traverse Lighthouse

On the way down the Peninsula we stopped at the Ruby Ellen farm, homesteaded in 1865 and owned by the same family for 146 years. It has 15 buildings that you can wander around and look at like this barn and silo pictured below. Since we arrived late afternoon, we were the only ones there and even when the small gift shop closed and volunteer staff left for the day, they didn’t seem to care that we stayed to explore. In 2003 a film called “Barn Red” was shot here which starred the famous actor Ernest Borgnine as a farmer in danger of losing his farm to developers.

Back at our campsite we found our bird feeder which has a protected case to discourage chipmunks and squirrels was not quite as protective as we hoped. This little guy got the top off and made himself at home amongst the seeds.

In the next post we leave Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and head for the Upper, also called the land of the Yooper!

Exploring Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

DH Day Farm – I love this scenic barn built in the 1880’s.

Because we were staying for over a week close to the National Lakeshore, we were able to leisurely visit this lovely area along Lake Michigan in the Northwestern part of the Lower Peninsula. One of the not to be missed attractions is the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive which loops through a dense beech-maple forest, past sand dunes and overlooks of Lake Michigan, Glen Lakes and Sleeping Bear 🐻 Dunes.

Ah……the trees!

I mentioned in my previous post that my sister and I did a trip to MIchigan about four years ago. We also took this scenic drive on that trip and at one point we stopped and took a picture of me in the road looking up at the trees. On this trip I paid close attention to try and find that bend in the road again as I wanted to recreate that photo. During my first trip here I was so taken with the hardwood forests along this drive that I had to stop for a closer look. Coming from the “dry” Central Valley of California, a dense forest of beech and maple was a sight to behold. On this trip I still found the trees to be amazing, but after traveling throughout the Eastern and Midwestern U.S., we have come upon these forests several times, so they are no longer a novelty, but still such a beautiful sight.

At the top of Sleeping Bear Dune

The most popular stop on this scenic drive is Sleeping Bear Dune. At 450 feet tall, this appears to be the tallest and most well known dune in the area. Although it is not advised, some people brave the trip down and back up. The National Park Service was giving more warnings than usual, because the lake level is high therefore there are less exposed beaches. If people descended in previous years, there was the option to walk down the beach and find an alternate way out besides the very difficult climb up.

A large platform is provided at the top of the Dune so visitors can admire the great views of Lake Michigan and the Sleeping Bear.

Below, are photos of people struggling back up. In the first photo they look like ants on the sand. Since it is so steep, people often resort to crawling on hands and knees.

Sleeping Bear Dune
Close up view of dune crawlers

There is an Indian legend associated with Sleeping Bear Dune. Long ago, a bear and her two cubs tried to come to this part of the lake from Wisconsin hoping to find more food. After searching for food along the beach, they decided to swim across the rest of the lake. They went a long way out into the water and the cubs became very tired and weak. They eventually sank into the water and drowned. The mother bear sadly waded ashore and laid down, looking out on the water where her cubs had died. Eventually, both of them came to the surface as two little islands and the mother bear still lies there today atop the dunes, looking after her children.

Another view looking out at the dunes

The Dune Climb which is not located on the scenic drive is an easier dune to explore than Sleeping Bear. It is a popular attraction because it is fun to explore all that sand. Fun but also a lot of hard work climbing uphill, especially when my feet kept sinking in all that sand, hindering my progress.

The popular Dune Climb
Making my way up the dune

The views at the top were very scenic and worth the climb.

View of Glen Lake from the dunes
More dunes past the main dune climb

For those interested, you can climb up and down many more dunes to reach the shore of Lake Michigan. I walked about half way on the “trail” but decided not to do the whole distance as it was tough going at times. When I saw the young out of breath and struggling I decided not to wear myself out.

Mark checking out the view

The National Lakeshore features the U.S. Coast Guard Sleeping Bear Point Station (once known as the Life-saving Service) which was in use from 1902-1942. This building housed crews and equipment to rescue passengers and crews that were in distress on this part of Lake Michigan. Surf boats were usually sent out, but if the surf was too dangerous a rope and pulley system was launched from shore to the distressed vessel. Once secure, a sturdier rope went across to be set up like a zip line so people could be moved off the ship. Every afternoon park service rangers re-enact a rescue with kids getting to act as crew to save a stranded Raggedy Ann and Andy. The building pictured above is now a museum with photos and information about the daily lives of the coast guard crew. One of the signboards gave information on weekly duties at the station. I chuckled a little at the terminology in this section: “For Friday, practice in the method adopted for restoring the apparently drowned.”

Lake Michigan shoreline near the Coast Guard station
A building onsite houses historic Coast Guard rescue boats

Glen Haven was at one time a thriving little village located next to the Coast Guard Station and Lake Michigan. There was once a general store, blacksmith shop, hotel, wagon shop and school. A cannery was also built near the shore where cherries and apples were processed from nearby farms. The cannery building is now a boat museum.

Boat Museum

Michigan seems to have some of the prettiest turquoise colored lakes of any state I have visited and Glen Lake pictured below is no exception.

Glen Lake Overlook

Stay tuned for more exploring in Michigan!

Camping Near Lake Michigan and Cherry Country

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a popular place in Michigan with a lot to see and many activities. In 2011, it was voted the most beautiful place in America by viewers of ABC’s “Good Morning America” show. So, I felt we were pretty fortunate to get an RV spot so close to the National Lakeshore since it was the middle of summer and I didn’t make reservations way in advance. This was the second time though in our travels when we had to move during our stay at a campground. The first time was in Virginia which was okay because for a few days we got to be right next to a creek. On this visit at Indigo Bluffs RV Park, we had to move just several spaces during the middle of our ten day stay. But all in all, this was one of the nicer campgrounds of our travels. The sites were shaded by lots of trees and the location was great – about three miles to the cute town of Empire on the shore of Lake Michigan. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Visitor Center was also only a few miles away. From the Visitor Center it was not far to drive to all the scenic attractions in the area.

Camping at Indigo Bluffs RV Park
Lots of wildflowers at our park including these Coreopsis

One perk was that a local farm had a stand onsite at the campground where they offered fresh picked vegetables and fruit for sale daily. It was nice on a couple of occasions to get a bag of salad greens from the cooler and tomatoes from the shelf.

As you can see, the goodies didn’t last long.

A close drive took me to the start of a great little hike on the Empire Bluff Trail that went through the woods to an overlook of Lake Michigan. About four years ago when I visited Michigan with my sister, I was amazed by the color of this Lake. I never expected it to be so turquoise blue. On this trip I continued to be amazed by the color and beauty which I would only expect to see in a more tropical location.

The Empire Bluff Trail is one of the best short trails I have been on. With less than a mile each way and not too much effort, one is rewarded with spectacular, wide ranging views. It was rather hard for me to tear myself away and head back down to the car.

One thing I was looking most forward to in this part of Michigan was the cherries 🍒. Traverse City is nearby and calls itself the “Cherry Capital of the World.” More tart cherries are grown in Michigan than any other U.S. state and the bulk are grown around the Traverse area. Each summer a cherry festival is held in Traverse City. I was hoping to go cherry picking while here but I was told that cherries were late because of the cooler weather during spring and early summer. A few days before we were to leave I saw a sign pointing the way to a farm offering U-pick, so off I went to check it out. The farm had both sweet and tart cherries, but I was only interested in the sweet. When I arrived, I was given a small bucket and instructions to drive my truck through the farm on a dirt track and down into the orchards. When I got to my destination, I found only one other lady picking.

The cherries were small and not that sweet but it was fun to be among the trees and pick the fruit. Cherries just might be my favorite fruit, so I was happy to lose myself in a large cherry orchard.

Fitting with the area, Cherry Republic has stores in both Traverse City and the small town of Glen Arbor. Due to my obsession with cherries, I had to go there a few times because the store/cafe has all things cherry. We went to the Glen Arbor store which has a fun vibe both inside and out. To begin with, they actually have an Olympic sized cherry pit spitting arena for those that want to try out this “sport.” I saw a few people attempt it but I wasn’t sure where they got their pits as I didn’t see any fresh cherries for sale in the store.

If something can be made with cherries or flavored with them it seems to be for sale at Cherry Republic. There are packages of dried cherries, chocolate covered cherries, cherry nut mixes, cherry snacks, candies, honeys, jams, preserves, salsas, baking mixes, fudge sauces, juices, sodas and wines. There are samples of many of these items. The Boomchunka cookies were a hit with Mark and I. Mark is a definite “Cookie Monster.” It is rare for him to pass up a good cookie (or even a bad one). These were large, plump and tasty cookies filled with oats, coconut, dried cherries and chocolate chips.

All things cherry at Cherry Republic – our favorite were Boomchunka cookies

Although the store is great, the cafe in a separate building is just as good or better. My sister and I discovered this treasure during our Michigan road trip and at that time I had the grilled cheese sandwich. On this trip it was still on the menu and is one of the richest grilled cheese I have ever had. It consists of cherry bread with a layer of cherry jam and white cheddar. The sandwich is covered with Parmesan and grilled. Dessert is not to be missed as they feature a variety of cherry pies as well as ice cream with different cherry flavors made on the premises.

Homemade cherry crumb pie and cherry ice cream
How can anyone look so serious when they are eating scrumptious cherry pie and cherry ice cream?

The Traverse City area has another favorite food item of mine. In my opinion there are no better BBQ potato chips than Great Lakes. My sister and I discovered them during our past trip and we haven’t stopped thinking about them. Several times we have ordered some but unfortunately they declined my recent order, reporting that they can’t ship at this time to California 😢 . On this trip I also tried for the first time their cherry BBQ chips which are also fantastic with a slightly sweet taste.

While I am on the topic of cherries, Traverse City claims to have the pie pan that once held the largest cherry pie in the world. On July 25, 1987, Chef Pierre Bakeries (now the Sara Lee Company) in Traverse City baked a cherry pie weighing 28,350 pounds with a diameter of 17 feet, 6 inches. That’s a lot of cherries and dough!

Stay tuned for more on the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore area……but no more cherry talk 😊 .

Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan

1917 Overland Light Four Touring Car

One of the greatest collections of interesting American artifacts can be found in the exhibits of Henry Ford’s Museum. These artifacts tell the story of important inventions and events that defined U.S. history and culture. I found it to be a wondrous step back in time. Mr. Ford not only developed a car industry, but found the time and interest to preserve one of a kind items and begin a museum that has continued his legacy. In my opinion, this truly must be one of the best museums in America. It is so large that it takes a day to see it all, but for museum lovers or lovers of history, it is a day well spent! Come along as I show some of the museum highlights we found.

Rosa Parks made history on this bus

The museum is divided into a number of sections. Let’s first go to “With Liberty and Justice For All” where two artifacts are in the MUST SEE category. It is in this section where we learned about America’s struggle for freedom with an emphasis on the Civil Rights movement. One of the most noteworthy moments from this period was on December 1, 1995, when Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man. After she was arrested and convicted, blacks in the city boycotted public buses for 381 days, marking the country’s first large scale demonstration against segregation. The boycott led to the Supreme Court outlawing racial segregation on public buses in Alabama.

The volunteer staff person sat me in the seat she claimed was Rosa’s.

Before the bus was obtained, it had sat unused for 30 years in an Alabama field. In 2001 it was put on auction and the Henry Ford Museum outbid other interested parties including the Smithsonian Institution by paying $492,000. The bus needed major restoration which cost an additional $300,000. The restored bus was first exhibited at the Museum in 2003, two years before Rosa Parks passed away in 2005.

The second MUST SEE in this section is one I found both mesmerizing and chilling – the rocker Abraham Lincoln sat in at Ford’s Theater when he was shot. For its age, the chair looks to be in good condition. The dark spots on the rocker look like blood and makes this exhibit that much more sobering. The chair was purchased by Henry Ford in 1929 after it was auctioned for $2,400. It was first housed in the Logan County Courthouse in Greenfield Village (my previous blog posts) until 1980 when it was moved into the museum.

Another presidential artifact in this section is George Washington’s camp bed and camp chest from the years 1775 – 1780. Washington carried folding beds, tents, eating utensils and other equipment while camping with his troops during the Revolutionary War. While visiting the Yorktown National Historic Site in Virginia we were able to see a tent that Washington used while in the field, so it was great to also see more artifacts from Washington’s days as commander.

From the serious to the whimsical we have the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, built in 1952 and considered the oldest of this type of vehicle. I believe I last ate a hot dog 🌭 more than 40 years ago and don’t plan to ever eat another one, but this vehicle couldn’t help but make me smile as it is just too cute. There are still Wienermobiles touring the country to promote the product with the drivers called “hotdoggers.” Amazingly, a little later on in our journey Mark and I actually saw one on the Interstate.

Kennedy’s limousine – view of the back where he sat when shot

The Ford Museum has many vehicles on display. One of the more notable sections is the “Presidential Vehicles” with Kennedy’s 1961 Lincoln Continental Convertible limousine the standout. It was in this vehicle on November 22, 1963 that he was assassinated in Dallas, TX. after his death, the car was rebuilt to make it more secure including titanium armor plating and a permanent roof. It was used occasionally by Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter until retired in 1977.

FDR’s Sunshine Special

There are four other presidential vehicles on display here: Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Reagan. FDR’s vehicle was the first vehicle built especially for presidential use in 1939. It was called the “Sunshine Special” because FDR loved to ride in it with the top down.

Quadricycle – Ford’s first car

In the “Driving America” section we were able to see a number of historic cars including the first designed by Henry Ford. Built in 1896 and called the Quadricycle, it was Ford’s first attempt to build a gas powered automobile. He sold it for $200.00 then used the money to build his second car. It had an iron frame, a leather belt and chain drive for the transmission and a buggy seat.

It is hard for me to imagine a time when service station pumps didn’t calculate the amount of gasoline and price. At the Texaco station exhibit, the Texaco Fire Chief gasoline pumps from 1940 did away with the price charts used by service station attendants. Next to the pumps was a 1939 Dodge Tanker Truck that brought gasoline directly from the refinery to the service station.

Not surprising, we love a road trip, even a long one across the U.S., so I liked the exhibit of the Packard Model F Runabout, the 2nd car to cross the U.S. in 1903. Crossing America during that time though would have been extremely difficult. Some roads were surfaced with gravel but most were simply dirt paths. West of the Mississippi there were few roads. Two men made the journey: Tom Fetch, a packard plant foreman and Maurius Krarup, a journalist. Traveling from San Francisco to New York took them 61 days. Fetch summed up the trip by saying, “It was hard, very hard and I do not care to make the trip again.” Some times the good old days are just not that good. This car was not shined up for the exhibit as it still has dirt plastered all over.

This adorable looking 1927 Blue Bird School bus is claimed to be the oldest surviving school bus in America. It is the first in a long line of buses made by Blue Bird, one of the country’s major school bus builders. The creator, Albert Luce from Georgia, constructed a strong steel framework under the wood body and mounted it on a Ford Model TT truck.

Some of the exhibits at the Museum are hands on including the ”Build a Model T” in the
“Made in America” section. Each day an entire Model T is assembled with the help of visitors. When we stopped by, several girls were working on putting a running board back on the car. What a great idea and activity! In a nearby area was an assembly line to put together miniature Model T’s. A volunteer staff asked for eight participants to man the different stations, for example putting together the chassis, body and wheels. My job was to turn the wheel to operate the conveyor belt and control how fast it went. Everyone had to work quickly to put together as many cars as possible in the allocated minutes.

Even the littlest visitors could try their hand at car repair and maintenance – there were tires to change and fluids to replace in the engine.

House of the future – Dymaxion

Moving away from automobiles we now have something completely different – the Dymaxion House. It was designed in 1945 by a visionary architect to be the strongest, lightest and most cost effective housing ever built. This domed roof, aluminum exterior home was to be mass produced on an assembly line and shipped pre-assembled. It was created to be an inexpensive solution to the postwar American housing shortage. The home has two bedrooms, living area, galley kitchen with all steel built in appliances and bathroom. Special features include revolving closets and shelves to maximize storage space. The bathroom was designed to conserve water by using a “fogger” or mist system in the shower and a shrink wrap packaging waste system for the commode. A ventilator on the top of the home allowed fresh air in but kept the wind out. This is the only prototype for the home as it could never be mass produced as planned. I wasn’t too wild about a house with so much metal. It just felt too industrial and not cozy.

Interior of the Dymaxion

The Ford Museum exhibits railroads and “Heroes of the Sky,” with historic aircraft like a replica of a Wright Brothers plane. In four simulated aircraft I experienced flight from different time periods and got dizzy practicing to be a “wing walker” while on a biplane projected from a large screen. In the “Agriculture” section were examples of innovative machines for farming and I sat inside a 1975 Sperry-New Holland Columbine. There were huge stationary steam engines to marvel at in the ”Made in America” section. We wandered in ”Your Place in Time” to see artifacts and technology from the different generations, including our own. In the 80’s area I couldn’t pass up making a video of myself with the Van Halen rock band for MTV.

1939 Douglas DC-3 – first successful commercial airliner

We found this Museum to be filled with an amazing variety of exhibits with something to interest everyone! We are so thankful for visionaries like Ford who saw the need to preserve these pieces of history for later generations. I hope you liked seeing some of what this museum has to offer.

Stay tuned for my next blog when we move from technology to nature and visit the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore area in Michigan.

Exploring Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan – Part II

Greenfield Village – Stony Creek Mill Pond

I was pretty enamored with Greenfield Village, so I decided to spend another day exploring and write a second blog post as well. From the layout of the Village to every building and exhibit, I found much to be captivated by. Lovingly maintained and staffed by enthusiastic volunteers, this is the best living history museum I have seen on my travels. I think it is even better than Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia which is heavily visited and one of the more famous living history museums. I believe It is natural in exploring attractions to find at least a few things that could be improved or are not visitor friendly. After two days at Greenfield I stopped to think what could be better and couldn’t come up with anything significant. There was plenty of room to roam around and even get away from crowds, the staff were engaging, the historical sites informative and attractive. Even the food, often a downer at many of these kinds of places, was quite good. We ate two decent lunches here and the baked potato with chili meal I had at the “Taste of History” Restaurant featured the biggest, nicest potato with tasty chili I have ever eaten. I think Luther Burbank who the meal honored would be pleased at how his potato was featured.

Greenfield Village has a historical section called “Porches and Parlors” where you can see the homes and learn about the lives of ordinary and not so ordinary people that changed America. Here can be found the homes of Robert Frost, Thomas Edison, Luther Burbank, Noah Webster and William Holmes McGuffey. Perhaps my favorite home in this section was the home of Mr. Webster, the Webster dictionary author. This became an interesting visit as I knew almost nothing about him.

Noah Webster home – built in 1823

Webster and his wife Rebecca lived here in their later years in New Haven, Connecticut. It was here in 1828 that Webster wrote his famous dictionary, “American Dictionary of the English Language.” A room upstairs is filled with spelling books (the famous blue back speller) and dictionaries that Webster wrote. The American Dictionary was the last dictionary written entirely by one person. The aim of the dictionary was to capture distinctively American words and spellings and included about 70,000 words. Webster added many technical and scientific words such as vaccination as well as common “Americanisms.” He included only one word that he made up himself – “demoralize.”

Webster’s most famous dictionary

Henry Ford and his wife liked the style of this 1619 English Cotswold Cottage so they had it dismantled in England and brought back to Greenfield. They also brought the barn to go with it. I thought this home was the most delightful of all the homes in the Village. It was set in an English style garden with many blooming plants and flowers.

Me looking out from Cotswold Cottage

Outside of the Susquehanna Plantation two actors portrayed life as slaves using songs, stories and quite a bit of audience participation. They were quite animated as the photo below shows. This Civil War era home was part of a 700 acre plantation of the Maryland Tidewater region. The home of the Carroll family, they grew 700 acres of tobacco and wheat and owned 65 slaves.

Actors at the Susquehanna Plantation
Susquehanna Plantation – a tired worker sits among the tobacco plants

I have always had a fondness for windmills and this one from Cape Cod, Massachusetts is claimed to be the oldest in the United States. The wind moved the sails of the windmill to operate the grain milling machinery inside.

Farris Windmill – built in the mid 1600’s

Amos and Grace Mattox, descendants of slaves raised their family in this Georgia farmhouse during the depression years of the 1930’s. The volunteer told me a story about how Mr. Ford came upon this house while traveling the back roads of Georgia. He wanted to buy it for Greenfield Village but Mr. Mattox wouldn’t sell. He kept trying though and eventually after Mattox passed away, his family agreed to sell and the home was moved to the Village in 1943. This was one of a group of homes Mr. Ford obtained to represent “African American progress from bondage through redemption to world recognition.”

Mattox Home – built around 1880

The authentic insulation of newspapers on the walls and cardboard on the ceiling gave the rooms a very homey feeling.

Mattox home interior

If you have visited any historic schools, you probably have seen the McGuffey Readers on desks, popular in frontier school houses. In 1800, William Holmes McGuffey was born in this stark looking log cabin built in the late 1790’s in southwestern Pennsylvania. Ford was a big fan of the McGuffey Readers and decided to purchase this home in 1937.

The Edison Complex is a major highlight of the Village. Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory, once located in New Jersey was the first of its kind in the world. This is where Edison made his most important inventions, especially the incandescent light bulb. On October 22, 1879. Edison tested a bamboo filament which lasted over 30 hours. The laboratory remains just as it was when Edison worked here. It was truly amazing to see where this famous inventor spent so much of his time.

Thomas Edison’s Laboratory where he developed the lightbulb

The biggest surprise for me though was the phonograph machine that Edison developed in 1877 using wax and tinfoil strips. The machine was used for recording and playing back either voice or music. Edison voiced the words from the song, “Mary had a little lamb” on his phonograph and today at Greenfield, a volunteer demonstrated recording the same song and playing back the results. I can’t quite wrap my head around how using these elements produced such clear words – this is quite an invention!

Volunteer at Edison’s lab speaking the words from Mary had a little lamb on the phonograph cylinder.
Playing back the words after recording

In the year 1919, Henry Ford learned that his birthplace was at risk to be destroyed due to a road improvement project. He decided to move the farmhouse and restored it to how it was before his mother’s death when he was 13 years of age. He filled it with either original or similar furnishings that he remembered from his boyhood. In 1944, the building was moved to the Village. This home was the beginning of Ford’s work to bring more buildings to Greenfield and preserve them for others to enjoy. Today there are almost 100 historic buildings located here.

Henry Ford was born here in 1863

I hope you enjoyed reading about a little of what Greenfield Village offers. There is so much more to see here that I haven’t written about. It is definitely a must see destination! Has anyone been here and would like to share thoughts on your experiences? Would love to hear about them!

More Henry Ford to come in my next blog as I explore the Henry Ford Museum located next to Greenfield Village.

One more ride!