The last few decades have been ones of breathtaking change. Dynamic times with the development of the internet, computers, cell phones, flat screen TVs, and new manners in which we work, socialize, purchase, sell, and advertise.
The 1800’s and 1900’s were similar dynamic times that saw the average speed at which humans traveled change from walking to that of the locomotive and automobile. Communication changed from the speed of sound of one’s voice to the speed of light through the telegraph, telephone, and television.
Our re-creation of Roy D Chapin’s historic automobile journey will intersect with other historic events and places that formed the foundations of today’s society. I will discuss a number of these topics during our journey winds it way to Detroit, including:
1) The relation of the locomotive and jello…don’t underestimate the importance of jello!
2) Thomas Edison’s trail of innovation that includes parking lots with electric vehicle charging stations bearing his name in New York City to a test tube near Detroit with his last breath. And, along the way, the site of Edison’s first power plant, and a place where Ty’s GreatGreat Grandpa Newell may have yelled at little Tommy Edison during his childhood.
3) The home of Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph and Morse code, precursors of today’s internet and computer technologies.
4) Canada’s largest solar power plant.
5) A place where Abe Lincoln, Woody Guthrie and John Lennon drank beer (hint; related to jello and locomotives above).
6) The Wright brothers’ bicycle shop.
7) The first Ford factory.
8) Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Home, not that great of a house, but innovative and an inspiration to entrepreneurs reaching for the stars.
9) The birth of steam power transportation in America, considered a “folly” at the time.
10) The boyhood home of Cornelius deLamater (who?).
11) The site of Sybil Ludington’s famous ride….twice as long as Paul Revere’s ride, which is also the place where Debra and Ty met some 40 years ago.
12) The oldest “outhouse” in America….which is also the site of historic events important in the formation of our country, and near one of Roy Chapin’s stops.
13) Many locations along the Erie Canal that Roy Chapin followed, including the site where canal construction began.
14) The very first concrete paved road in the world located in The Motor City.
15) And, who knows what else we will find as we travel interesting routes off the beaten path of the interstates? The communities we will pass through all have a story, and are all a part of the fabric that has contributed to our past, and that continue to contribute to the building of our future.
While it is important not to dwell in the past, it is always valuable to take a look back as we move forward. Why have so many civilizations crumbled in the past? What is so difficult about achieving a sustainable society that can confidently move into the future?
In the words of Professor Aldo Leopold in a 1938 speech at the University of Wisconsin,
“….our tools are better than we are, and grow better faster than we do. They suffice to crack the atom, to command the tides. But they do not suffice for the oldest task in human history: to live on a piece of land without spoiling it.”