Like most people, when I think of Henry Ford, my mind immediately goes to cars. My dad is a mechanic. I grew up around cars, drag racing and have always had a health appreciation for cars of all types. My other half works for one of the major brands (he builds racing engines), and he owns a drag car, which we race through the summer. When we discovered that there was The Henry Ford museum near Detroit, of course we decided to go check it out.
So, if it’s The Henry Ford, why is there a picture of a Douglas DC3 up there? Well, much to our surprise, The Henry Ford is about WAY more than cars. It’s about transportation in general and things that have shaped our lives as we know them. There is also a really cool village adjoining the museum, Greenfield Village, showing what life was like in Henry’s time and some of the history that led up to the invention of the car. I’ll share more on the village in another post.
Planes, trains, automobiles and more would be a great tagline for The Henry Ford. The place is HUGE and there is SO MUCH to explore. In my opinion, it would be impossible to do the museum justice in one day. We saw that pretty quickly and immediately circled back to turn our one-day tickets into a family season pass. After taking care of that, we started our visit in the aviation area. The big DC3 at the beginning of the post leads the way. You can view the plane from below as well as an area above. It was incredibly neat to read all of the specs on the plane, how many miles it traveled, how much fuel it burned, etc. I would love to know how the numbers compare to our modern planes.
Being originally from North Carolina, being First in Flight was a big deal to us. In reality, the Wright Brothers were from Ohio… the NC coast just happened to be the perfect place to test their experiments. We spent a ton of time learning about the Wright Brothers and the first flight in school. It was incredibly neat to see a replica of the original plane (and we got to walk through the Wright Brother’s bike shop in Greenfield Village – Henry Ford had it moved here from Ohio). Feeling the material that covered the wings, seeing the detail and fragility of the pieces, it was all truly amazing.
There was much, much more in the aviation area, but if it’s impossible to share it all in one post. Next, we moved on to the Locomotives section. I have been to a train museum before, so I have seen what early train cars were like and how the engines operated, but it is always interesting to look at more. The detail that went into the interiors has always fascinated me. There were some incredibly detailed models, huge (and I mean massively huge) engines – one of which had wheels that stood taller than my shoulders. I could actually stand under the wheel well without hitting my head. Crazy! There is also a great kids area in this section. The kids weren’t with us at this point, but if they had been, I would’ve needed the break!
That beautiful specimen of a car is a Bugatti. It was one of many, many amazing cars in the automobile section of the museum. Each car has an information plaque telling you the details of the make/model, the specifics history of the actual car (if known) and some detailed info on costs and what the average household income was at the time the car was produced. It was quite interesting to see how car prices compared to incomes and then use those ratios to look at current car prices vs incomes. We didn’t get to spend near as much time in this section as we would’ve liked (we stayed until the museum closed) but we have our season passes, so we definitely plan to head back in a few weeks.
In addition to the transportation exhibits, there are also other exhibits on things that are considered iconic, such as The Beatles. The Henry Ford also boasts a huge IMAX screen and a variety of areas both inside and outside for you to explore. I can see this being one of my son’s favorite places this summer. I hope to share Greenfield Village with you in a post soon, but needless to say the entire Henry Ford property is well worth the visit.