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Images from the River Rouge Part V: The Largest Auto Factory in the World

We return to the Images from the River Rouge series today with a mixed set of photos of vehicles and the Soybean Processing plant at the Ford factory located in Dearborn, MI.

The lead photo contains the twenty-ninth millionth Ford car built at the end of the production line on April 29, 1941. The vehicle, a 1941 Ford fitted with a wooden station wagon body built at the Company’s Iron Mountain Michigan Plant and presented the Red Cross Volunteer Motoring Corps. The Ford Motor Company made it a practice to support the local Dearborn police and fire departments and other agencies by presenting new vehicles to them when needed.

The Ford Motor Company at one point owned a railroad used for shipping parts and supplies to the River Rouge and a locomotive repair and construction building at the plant. This Ford switching locomotive (above) was used on a large network of miles of track in and next to the Factory Complex for moving freight and supplies around and in and out of the property.

One of Henry Ford’s pet projects was to develop the process of using crushed soybeans to make plastic parts. Starting in the early-1930s the use of plastic in Ford vehicles increased and this photo dated to 1940 contains the Company’s Soy Bean (sic) Processing plant at the River Rouge Plant. Some of the soybeans were used to build the Ford Soybean Car in 1941.

Learn more about the River Rouge Complex at The Henry Ford, the source of the photos in this series. View earlier posts about the River Rouge here.

13 responses to “Images from the River Rouge Part V: The Largest Auto Factory in the World

      • The Spring/Summer 2018 issue of Railroad History has an article by David R. P. Guay about Ford’s Rouge River Railroad. Engine 1000 was a 125-ton GE diesel locomotive, chassis number 12229. It was built in September 1937 and generated 960 horsepower. It was sold to the Wellsville, Addison & Galeton Railroad in December 1955, retired in 1962, and scrapped in either late 1969 or early 1970.

    • According to the Don’s Depot website, Ford #1000 was a 125 ton locomotive that was “built by General Electric in September 1937. It was sold to [the] Wellsville Addison & Galeton [railroad] as [number] 1200 in December 1955 and was retired in 1962. It was scrapped in 1969.” From the information I found it appears there were both 125 ton and 132 ton versions.

      Only one of Ford’s centercab locomotives still exists (#1006) at the Lake Shore Railway Historical Society Museum in North East, Pennsylvania. The museum website says that the locomotives were built to resemble the front of a 1937 Ford and that a total of eight were built. The locomotive they have was built in 1940 and is a 132 ton version.

  1. Just to compare, Plymouth produced its ten millionth car in the 1957 model year, Chevrolet produced its fifty millionth car in the 1955 model year, and Ford produced its fifty millionth car in the 1958 model year.

    • The 50 millionth Ford is at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. It’s a 59 Ford Galaxie 500 white 4 Dr sedan. My Dad had the exact car in 59.

    • Ah, you’re right. GM’s 50 millionth car happened to be a 1955 Chevrolet, but the 50 millionth Chevrolet wasn’t built until the 1963 model year.

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