Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog - Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

What is a Boondoggle?

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On September 23, 2016

If you are looking for an unusual gift for yourself or others, then the old fashioned heritage craft known as a boondoggle will fit the bill.

Boondoggle are woven from sabal palm and legend has it that they ward off lightning strikes and bring good luck to the household. They were a traditional wedding present, and they are just plain beautiful.

The Edison Ford stores have boondoggles for sale in all of the locations, Museum Store, Ford Cottage Shoppe and the Edison Ford Shoppe at Bell Tower Shops. They are made by local crafts person and a beautiful addition to any home or building.


Mangoes for Everyone

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On September 16, 2016

By now everyone knows that Henry and Clara Ford owned a Florida estate named “The Mangoes,” for the allée of mango trees that lined their property and the Edison Estate along McGregor Boulevard. The Edison family added innumerable orchids in the mango trees on this area of their property, which they called “Orchid Lane.”

Today Edison Ford continues the tradition begun by the Edison and Ford families. In fact, there are 17 different mango varieties on the property (including the “old Florida turpentine mango”).

group with debbie and mangoes in bucketsEdison Ford collaborates with ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization) in North Fort Myers. ECHO Farm Manager, Tim Watkins, and interns assisted Senior Horticulturist, Debbie Hughes gather turpentine mangoes (approximately 1,000). ECHO Nursery grows the seeds as rootstock, grafts mango varieties to the rootstock, and distributes grafted fruit trees to needy communities around the globe to help grow their own. Edison’s old mangoes have made their way around the world.

Garden staff gathers fruit from the property and will sell what is available in the Museum Store. Because mangoes ripen differently, it’s always good to call ahead to see what is ripe and available for sale. This time of year, there is starfruit, and eventually Meyer lemons, calamondins, key limes, and limequats seasonally. For more information on what’s available call, the Museum Store at 239-334-7419.

Ford Quadricycle Progress and Update

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On February 22, 2016

quadricycle volunteerThanks to the creative oversight of Automotive Curator Jim Moss, Registrar Matt Andres and a very talented group of volunteers, the pieces and parts of the replica Henry Ford 1904 Quadricycle are being produced and will be ready for assembly (like the crank shaft below). Although this sounds easy, it really isn’t because the machinists, mechanics and engineers are building the Quadricycle from scratch in machine shops throughout the region.

quadricycle crank shaft feb 2016Pictured is part of the crank shaft and the volunteer who is creating this in his own shop, Walter Newell. The group expects to have the Quadricycle finished before the end of 2016. Contact Registrar Matt Andres in the Curatorial Department if you would like to join the group which meets monthly.

quadricycle crank shaft 2


The “Believe It or Not” Bridge

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On January 23, 2016

edison bridge lamp postIronically, when completed in 1931, the Edison Bridge had no electric lights. City officials were further embarrassed in 1935, when a nationwide Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” cartoon lampooned the bridge. With the help of Florida Power & Light, over 50 lampposts were added in 1937, creating a fitting tribute to the inventor which it memorialized.

An original Edison Bridge lamppost is on display at the Edison & Ford Museum.

Bridging the Past and the Future of Fort Myers

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On January 22, 2016

edison birthday convertible paradeOn Thomas Edison’s final birthday, February 11, 1931, a ceremony was held to celebrate the opening of a newly constructed bridge named in his honor. Spanning the Caloosahatchee River, the structure acknowledged the famed inventor’s place in Fort Myers’ history. A group of local girls dressed in white escorted Edison’s car to the bridge opening from his home. Florida Governor, Doyle E. Carlton and Mayor of Fort Myers, Josiah Fitch delivered short speeches. Mayor Fitch, echoing the sentiments of many in the crowd, proclaimed: “Today we are touching a high spot in the history of Fort Myers. Whatever efforts we make here today to honor Mr. Edison will fall short of his honor to us.”

With a whoop, Thomas Edison untied the green and orange ribbon, officially opening the Edison Bridge.

edison birthday bridge opening

The Tamiami Trail

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On January 19, 2016

For many years, Fort Myers was somewhat isolated from its neighbors. In the 19th century, travel by boat was quite common. The train did not connect to the city until 1904, and it was not until 1924 that a wooden bridge first crossed the Caloosahatchee River into Fort Myers, allowing visitors from the north convenient access. Meanwhile, in 1916, work had begun to continue roadwork to the east, connecting Tampa with Miami. The project became known as the “Tamiami Trail.”

Twelve years, $8 million dollars, and almost three million sticks of dynamite later, the road-building project was completed. Thomas & Mina Edison used the newly constructed roadway to visit their friends, the Firestones, at their winter home in Miami Beach. Increased traffic rendered the existing wooden bridge obsolete and prompted construction of the Edison Bridge in 1928.

Henry Ford to be Inducted into Florida Inventors Hall of Fame – October 2, 2015

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 15, 2015

Through the work of staff at Edison Ford, Henry Ford will be inducted into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame which is located at the University of South Florida. This is an honor for the inventor himself, and for Henry and Clara’s Winter Estate which is under the management of Edison Ford today.

This completes the process for Edison Ford institutionally as last year, Thomas Edison was among the first group of Florida Inventors to be inducted into the new Florida Inventors Hall of Fame.

We are honored to be in the group of people who helped shape Florida and America. Chris Pendleton, President & CEO, and Mike Cosden, Chief Curator, will represent Edison Ford at the upcoming induction ceremony.

Henry Ford Florida Inventors Hall of Fame July 2015

Ford Facts

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 8, 2013

Did you know . . .ford and engine

      •  Henry Ford was the founder of what is know today as Kingsford Charcoal  

      •  Henry Ford experimented with soy beans not only as a food source but created a suit and a car out of soy beans

     •  The Fordson Tractor was created by Henry Ford and became a mainstay on American farms in 1917       

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

                                                                                 – Henry Ford


     Follow us on Twitter for a Ford quote of the day at @edisonfordfl  


The History of the Christmas Light

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On December 19, 2012

In 1878, Thomas Edison began the difficult process of perfecting the electric light bulb. Just two years later, during the Christmas season of 1880, Edison displayed a strand of electric lights outside his lab in Menlo Park, New Jersey. Passersby on a nearby train would have been among the first to witness what would become a defining trend in the way America celebrates Christmas.

However, electric Christmas lights did not catch on immediately. In 1882, a colleague of Edison’s named Edward Johnson developed a strand of red, white and blue Christmas lights and displayed them on a rotating Christmas tree. In 1895, President Grover Cleveland displayed electric Christmas lights in the White House, increasing public acceptance of the new trend in electric lighting. By the turn of the 20th century, electric Christmas lights were on their way to becoming the integral part of the season that they are today.

Each year, this Christmas tradition is celebrated at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates. Join us for our Holiday Nights celebration, or consider indulging in a Holiday Nights Behind the Scenes tour, offered every Tuesday in December (except Christmas day) at 6:00pm. Call (239) 334-7419 for more information or to make reservations.

Museum Artifacts

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On September 24, 2012

Mr. Russell Mabry, the original owner and caretaker of this 1917 Ford Model TT Truck, visited the Edison Ford Estates on August 9th. He was joined by his grandson Scott Holmes (far right) and his two great-grandsons.

Mr. Mabry fondly recalled driving the truck to the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in August of 1990 after it was purchased by the City of Fort Myers.

     The 1917 Ford Model TT Truck features a 20 horse power, four cylinder engine, with a magneto electrical generator that is used to produce high voltage and power for the vehicle’s ignition system. It also features a worm drive transmission that decreased speed of the vehicle but increased engine’s pulling power.

The front tires were originally made of reinforced natural rubber filled with air but the rear tires were made of solid natural rubber to allow for more load capacity. Because of the heavier load capacity the speed would have been limited to about 15 – 25 miles per hour.

      This 1917 Ford Model TT Truck sold as a combination with a frame and hood (chassis/cowl) and the pine cab and oak bed was constructed and added afterwards. Early trucks sold for less than $500 (at that time the 1917 Model T Touring car was priced at $360 and the Ford Sedan at $645). This truck offered consumers a durable, dependable and reasonably priced vehicle that could perform both light and heavy duty commercial work due to its heavier frame and rear axle.

Note to visitors: Cars on display in the Ford gatage including the Model T Truck have been moved to off-site storage in preparation for Tropical Storm Isaac.