11 January 2009

Trip to Michigan - Henry Ford Museum

The day or so before we left we went to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI. It was in a beautiful 19th century building. The Henry Ford is the nation's "largest indoor-outdoor history museum" complex. Named for its founder, the noted automobile industrialist Henry Ford, and based on his desire to preserve items of historical significance and portray the Industrial Revolution, the property houses a vast array of famous homes, machinery, exhibits, and Americana. The collection contains many rare exhibits including John F. Kennedy's presidential limousine, Abraham Lincoln's chair from Ford's Theater, Thomas Edison's laboratory, the Wright Brothers' bicycle shop, and the Rosa Parks bus.












It goes without saying that there were a lot of cars in the museum in their "Automobile in American Life" exhibit. The picture on the left below is of a supercool futuristic car that Micah looked at for some time. Then Rebekkah poses with the dummy.












The huge train shown below is a 2-6-6-6 Allegheny type locomotive, which was the most powerful and heaviest steam locomotive ever built, incorporates an articulated wheel base "with 2 leading wheels, two sets of six driving wheels and six trailing wheels." The wheels themselves were over 5 feet tall and the articular wheel base was required to allow the 20 wheeled engine to travel on curves. In addition, the coal had to be fed with an automated augur since a person couldn't shovel the coal in fast enough to keep it going. They could haul 5,000 tons at 45 mph (could reach 60 mph). This is only one of two still in existence today being shown in the transportation and mobility exhibit.














Below are pictures of the kids as hot dogs.














One of the coolest exhibits at the Henry Ford was the Dymaxion House. This was the the only surviving prototype of Buckminster Fuller's vision for mass-produced, affordable housing to address several perceived shortcomings with existing homebuilding techniques in the mid 1900s. Apparently many invested and his plan was to build a prototype in which he would live in, but the banks would not go for it in the end. It was very cool. I was going to cut and paste hilights here but am feeling too lazy. I encourage you to read this and this just because it is quite interesting even for those not nearly as nerdy as me.











It was amazing! The museum had the bus that Rosa Parks was actually arrested on!! In case your history is rusty and you do not know who she was, I will provide a quick summary: "She was an African American civil rights activist whom the U.S. Congress later called the "Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement". On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey bus driver James Blake's order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger."










It also had the rocking chair that President Abraham Lincoln was sitting in during the production of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre when he was assassinated on April 14, 1865. We also got to see the gun that was used to shoot Lincoln at the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA and other memorabilia from Lincoln’s assassination including a lock of Lincoln’s hair, a sash from the funeral train, (the original) telegram ordering the arrest of John Wilkes Booth, a ticket to that night’s production at Ford’s Theatre, a replica of his “life mask”, and a fragment of Mary Todd Lincoln’s dress that she wore the night of the assassination.

These two items were shown in the With Liberty and Justice for All exhibit.














In the Heroes of the Sky exhibit there was a section where you could build different paper airplanes based on instructions (easy, medium, hard) and then test them. Here are some pictures...




















Here is Nicole and I resting and then my famous G√ľnther pose. I need to regrow my mullet from the 80s.











The final challenge before leaving was to build a car which could go down the bumpy track.




10 January 2009

Trip to Michigan - Sledding

One of the days we went into Jackson for some sledding. There wasn't a lot of snow but apparently there was enough for some great sledding. We kept watching the weather which at one time said it was going to snow and be cold. Unfortunately, the weatherman was wrong again. But it was still fun sledding for everyone except for the wives (who went shopping, of course).