Transportation history at the Sloan Museum

by Bob Hoelscher 18. October 2013 20:04


Antique Buick with AC Spark Plug plant sign in background

Recently I attended a program by the fine Flint Symphony Orchestra, which performs in a concert hall located in the Flint Cultural Center. Those planning a visit to the popular, Bavarian-themed community of Frankenmuth nearby would be well advised to also consider making a stop at this excellent museum.

The museum tells the story of Flint as a center for the production of vehicles and equipment to meet the nation’s transportation needs. Beginning with log-hauling gear and wagons, area factories were soon producing large quantities of horse-drawn carriages, which ultimately led to the city playing a major role, arguably second only to Detroit, in the development of America’s automobile industry. Not only was General Motors founded here, but Flint was home to a number of historic car makes, including the Whitney, its much-better-known successor, the Chevrolet, as well as Buick and such closely-related products as Fisher Bodies and AC Spark Plugs.

Permanent displays and colorful dioramas link the founding and growth of the city and the daily lives of its residents with the factories and products which they made, and cover such other developments as the organization of labor, sit-down strikes, floods, racial tensions, plus the conversion of plants to the production of wartime materiel. Also featured are a variety of temporary exhibits. “Space, a Journey to our Future,” is scheduled from January 25 to May 4, 2014, in collaboration with NASA. 

The Buick Automotive Gallery maintains a rotating display of the museum’s collection of historic vehicles, and a special Truck & Bus Exhibit will run from October 26 through March 30, 2014.


Explaining the historic auto assembly process


"Return of the Dinosaurs" temporary exhibit


Sit-down striker exhibit

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Three Especially Worthwhile Tour Inclusions

Public gardens in Halifax

by Bob Hoelscher 18. October 2013 20:01


Flowers in bloom, bandstand in background

If you are heading to Atlantic Canada, don’t even think about missing the Halifax Public Gardens, which in my humble opinion constitute one of the most beautiful small parks anywhere in the world. Open free of charge, these are among the best remaining Victorian Gardens in the Americas. 

The gardens are a comfortable walk from either downtown Halifax or the cruise ship port. They lie just past the popular district of shops along Spring Garden Road, across the street from the Lord Nelson Hotel.

The first gardens on the site were planted by the Nova Scotia Horticultural Society beginning in 1836, while additional and adjacent gardens were established by the City of Halifax in 1866-67. Both plots, totaling 16 acres, were unified as the city’s Public Gardens in 1874.

In 1984, they were designated a National Historic Site by the Canadian government. Locally, they’ve even been voted as the best place in the city to read a book, but as a photographer, I’m much more inclined to keep my camera busy whenever I visit. I most recently enjoyed the beautiful gardens on a Norwegian Gem Canada and New England cruise in September.


 Beautiful dahlias


Magnificent landscaping


Fountain statuary

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Three Especially Worthwhile Tour Inclusions

Old Mission General Store

by Bob Hoelscher 18. October 2013 19:58


Antiques, pastries, old-time candies, etc.

On a recent trip to Michigan, I took an excellent scenic drive north of Traverse City past handsome wineries, cherry orchards, a lighthouse and palatial summer homes. For my money, the highlight of the entire trip was a stop at the Old Mission General Store, at 18250 Mission Road. 

Established as a trading post for the local tribe in 1839, the original building was moved from the beach to the present roadside location about 1870. Inside I found the most eclectic collection imaginable of antiques, memorabilia and products for sale, even a traditional pickle barrel. Picnic tables are available outside. I knew that this was the “real thing” when I spotted the 1905 ferry schedule posted on the wall!         

Since 1999, the General Store has been owned and operated by Jim Richards, formerly a professional actor, and his wife Marci, the store’s ninth owners. As he did for me and my friends Dave and Ginny Behn while we enjoyed a tasty meal on the front porch, Jim, a most erudite and entertaining fellow, will be happy to regale your group members with fascinating tales about the store’s history. He talked about Henry Ford’s recommendation of the facility as an ideal “combustion engine destination spot.” 

In addition to Ford, past customers have included John D. Rockefeller, Thomas Edison and John Burroughs, as well as Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Warren G. Harding. It’s a list that I was happy to be included in.


The pickle barrel


The "spirits" counter


An amazing array of unusual items for sale

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Three Especially Worthwhile Tour Inclusions

pandorapandora braceletspandora charmspandora jewelrypandora beadspandora necklace

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