As we created the Geek History website, some topics were a natural, such as the history of the internet and modern electronics at silicon valley. But as we studied Thomas Edison our research became more intertwined with Henry Ford and the automotive industry. we saw that the exploration of automotive innovation and invention was a natural extension of our Geek History website.
At Geek History we give credit to the genius and hard work of the great geeks like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Henry Ford is heralded as one of the founding fathers of the automotive industry and Thomas Edison is praised as the prolific inventor known as the wizard of Menlo Park.
In the world of industrial age technology we look at the often forgotten geeks such as George Westinghouse, who brought electricity to our homes, and Reginald Fessenden, who developed modern radio. We study their contributions to the world.
Much in the same sense that Westinghouse and Fessenden are the forgotten geeks in the shadows of the celebrated Thomas Edison, our study of the automotive industry revealed that Ransom Eli Olds was an often forgotten geek in the shadows of the more well-known Henry Ford. While Henry Ford deserves a lot of credit for creating the Ford Motor Company and the Model T Ford, we learned a lot about the automotive industry and want to mention that Ransom Eli Olds needs to be remembered as well for his invention and innovation in the early twentieth century.
The Geek history automotive innovation road trip
We first visited The Henry Ford museum complex in Dearborn, Michigan, on our 2015 road trip to dig deeper into the life and inventions of Thomas Edison. In a blog post from last year I told the story of The Henry Ford as I look for lost GeekHistory
The Henry Ford is an amazing place. Much like visiting the Smithsonian complex in Washington, no matter how much you take in at the Henry Ford, you realize that there were things you missed once your visit is over. Unlike many places you visit with the attitude of been there, done that, the Henry Ford complex is something worth revisiting
As we planned our 2016 road trip, we added the tour of the Ford River Rouge Complex where the F-150 pickup trucks are made to our return visit to the Henry Ford. Another stop added while in the Detroit area was a visit to The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant.
Where the Model T Ford was born
The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant is not far from many deserted buildings that were abandoned due to a declining auto industry. I did not take pictures of the deserted buildings, and dwell on the failures of the past. I was happy to take pictures inside of the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, and appreciate the volunteers who help run the museum. Our tour guide at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant was a walking encyclopedia of automotive history. The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit is one of the coolest automotive museums you will find, taking you back to the early twentieth century, and learning about the manufacturing of the Model T Ford.
In planning our road trip, we looked at possible places to visit outside the greater Detroit area. Researching the history of the auto industry, as well as potential places to visit, the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum in Lansing, Michigan, became an obvious addition to our trip.
Another great place we visited, also staffed by great volunteers, was We learned a lot about automotive pioneer Ransom Eli Olds, and his two different companies, Oldsmobile and REO. Between the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit, and the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum in Lansing, I learned so much more about automotive history. I'll be busy for awhile sorting through all the pictures, and my thoughts, adding to my geek history websites.
You will often see the Great Lakes area and the Midwest States referred to as The Rust Belt. It is sad to see areas of economic decline and urban decay in this area that was once powerful during the industrial era. Learning about the history of the American auto industry has been a great addition to our road trips in recent years.
In our 2016 roadtrip that took us from Pittsburgh to Detroit we found a lot more material to include in our adventures of geek history and the automotive industry. Check out our comparison of Auto industry innovators and pioneers Henry Ford and Ransom Eli Olds as we we explore automotive innovation and invention.
Photo by Tom Peracchio taken at The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant Detroit October 2016.
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