Auto Archeology: Henry Ford’s Village Industries – Nankin Mills

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If there ever was a businessman with the image of an industrialist, it was Henry Ford. He went from a small factory on Piquette Street to a massive plant in Highland Park, to the monumental scope of the Rouge complex, where 100,000 of his employees toiled. Ford, though, was a man of contradictions. A farm boy, he espoused a great love of that lifestyle, and tried to preserve it at Greenfield Village, which contained a farm, just as surely as he knew that the success of the Model T meant increased urbanization. While Ford is associated with large industrial sites like the ones mentioned above or the other plants that Ford Motor Co. built around the globe, what’s not widely known are the Ford Village Industries, a number of small scale shops that Henry Ford operated around Michigan as a pet project. Some of the facilities employed less than two dozen men (and women in one case), only two employed more than a couple hundred people. The first was Nankin Mills, in western Wayne County on the Rouge River, upstream from Ford’s Rouge complex.

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