The Rouge Factory is the first factory of its kind in America. Henry Ford had realized quickly that he needed to be able to produce his autos faster than he was able to in order to grow the business to meet demand. he developed the first assembly line method of construction, and conveyors to bring parts down to the production floor. he also wanted to become self-sufficient, in that he did not want to have to slow production because they were waiting for parts. So he created plants that would utilize raw materials shipped in to make their components right on property. Power plants, blast furnaces, foundries, glass-making plants, anything that was needed to make any component of an automobile was added to the Rouge plant. At its peak in the 1930's, the Rouge plant covered more than 2000 acres and employed over 100,000 people.
This blog will be short on pictures, as photography through most of the tour is prohibited. There are 6 stations to explore at the facility. There's 2 theaters, the Legacy Theater which goes through the history of the Rouge, and the Art of Manufacturing Theater which chronicles the marvel of modern-day manufacturing, showing every step from vehicle conception to the final roll-off of the assembly line. Stations 3 and 6 go together, the Observation Deck and the Living Laboratory Tour, which showcases some of the Rouge's environmental innovations. Station 4 is the Assembly Plant, where you walk an elevated walkway above the Dearborn Truck Plant's lean and flexible assembly line. This was extremely interesting, and we were fortunate enough to be visiting while the Ford F-150's were being assembled. The viewing platforms total about 1/3 of a mile, and takes about an hour to walk around to allow for adequate time to observe the various assemblies taking place. There are also short videos along the route showing how they do such things as installing the components of the doors, the tire assembly, and so many other things. It was really quite fascinating, even for a non-automotive person :-).
Station 5 is the Legacy gallery, with historical vehicles made at the Rouge on display, including the 20 millionth Ford produced.
At the end of the tour, we hopped back on a bus to take us back over to the Henry Ford Museum. We had also bought tickets to see "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II" at the IMAX theater in the museum, (in 3D!!) so we had about an hour to kill before the movie started. We went down to the Michigan Cafe in the Museum to find some lunch. let me tell you, there are many places that could take a lesson on how to run a cafeteria from this one! It was clean, well organized, a really nice selection of food to choose from, reasonably priced, and the food was downright tasty! Al had an open-faced pulled pork sandwich on a thick slice of bread, with a thick creamy mac n'cheese for a side, and I had cheddar sliders with caramelized onions, and the mac n'cheese as well. It was a lot of food to eat, and was very good. It was too much food, actually, as we had no room for any of the yummy looking desserts at the dessert table!
After poking around the museum store for a bit, we headed over to the theater, and got in line for the movie. I loved the banners hanging over the queue:
The movie was excellent, and so much fun to see on a 3D large format screen. It also amazed me that it was a totally different movie-watching experience here from in New York. In new York, people are constantly doodling around with cell phones, texting during the movie, talking, and constantly moving around. here, everyone sat down, the lights went down, and everyone watched the movie! No talking, no jumping up and down, no cell phones. It was lovely :-)!
So, that was our day off this week. A couple of good activities to do indoors on an unbearably hot day. I hope for all our friends and family on the east coast that this intense heat wave isn't quite as bad once it gets there. Be careful, drink lots of water, and we'll see what happens next week. Hopefully, we'll get some cooler weather to go visit some new parks around here :-).