Monday, April 7, 2008

Crossroads Village

As I stated in a blog last month, we here in southeastern lower Michigan are blessed with having not one but two open-air museums. Most people know of Greenfield Village in Dearborn, of which I did a blog on late last year. Because auto-magnet, Henry Ford, had the wealth he was able to create a village beyond compare anywhere else in the United States, and probably Canada, too. I love Greenfield Village immensely, but, unfortunately, they have changed it quite a bit from Mr. Ford's original vision, adding cemented curbs and sidewalks and removing buildings that should not have been removed (the cooper and cobbler shops are but two that have been scrapped). There is a Disney feel to it now, and that has taken away the Victorian ambience one got as they strolled through the village streets. Fortunately, the majority of the houses remain intact and are more accurate in their presentations inside and out than ever before. They did their homework for this portion and it shows.
However, the younger, poorer, not nearly as famous open-air museum known as Crossroads Village located in Flint will give that Victorian feeling immediately, as soon as you enter the gates. The whole look and feel of the place just takes you right back in time, as you can see from the picture above. Yes, this is what you see as you step through the wooden ticket booth.

As you move past the original cars of the 19th century railroad (of which you can actually ride upon), the wood-plank sidewalks take you through the "town" part of the village, the main street, which looks exactly like you would expect a main street to look like. It has stores, an opera house, a barber shop, a hotel...

And then there's the tavern on the outskirts of town.
Of course, every town (even one without horses, unfortunately) needs a blacksmith shop. Here is where one can watch the smithy work his trade, just as in the old days. And, as with a blacksmith, most period towns had a gristmill. It's here that one can watch as the giant stone wheels grind the grain into flower. It's here where one can hear (and feel) the deafening roar of the water turning the magnificent equipment to turn the wheels. And, it's here where one can purchase flour made right here at the Atlas Mill.
Without refridgeration, ice houses were a necessity in keeping ice available (covered in sawdust) throughout the warm weather months.

As you move out of town you'll enter the neighborhood and see the houses - mostly farm houses - of Crossroads. I swear you fill feel as if you had literally stepped through a time travel portal.

The milk cow was as important as any livestock a farmer could own. It's great that they show how a cow is milked for those of us living in the city.

And, of course, the picturesque church. For some reason, they feel that this church should not have a cross lest they offend any non-Christians. Let's face it, by far and away the greater majority - without question - of the population in the 19th century in every state had a minimum of one Christian church. Of course, folks today like to change the past for the people of the present due to politically correct mumbo jumbo. But, we all know...

There is plenty more to see than what's pictured here - much more. And about the only couple of things I would change would be the addition of horses and carriages and probably a few more shops and houses - cooper, cobbler, etc. And, the addition of a cemetery (only the tombstones, of course) would be that touch of realism that no one else has (Mike Gillett's idea, and it's a great one!!!). They also need more period accurate presenters - you get what you pay for. Not that they are terrible but there is room for improvement.

They do have a carriage shop, barns, more houses, a lawyer's home, a doctor's office - all of the period.

Now, if only they would bring back the Civil War weekend!!!

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