Fact Du Jour – September 10, 2019 – Fordlandia – Henry Ford’s Abandoned Rubber City

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Fordlandîa, located deep in the Amazon rain forest in Brazil, was operational between 1928 and 1934.

In the 1920s, automaker Henry Ford wanted to build a “colony” for purposes of harvesting rubber for his cars. He set his sights on a location in the Amazon rain forest near Santarém. The goal was to provide housing and manufacturing facilities for up to 10,000 people. Typical American houses were built, as were a hospital, school, library, and hotel. The town also had a swimming pool, a playground, and a golf course.

The rubber plants didn’t wind up providing the rubber that Ford wanted, since the plants were affected by blight.

The “local” workers hired to work in Fordlandîa didn’t take too kindly to the “American” food provided to them (canned food and hamburgers). They also didn’t take too kindly to Henry Ford’s strict rules of no booze, no women, no tobacco and no football (keep in mind association football is essentially a religion in South America – especially Brazil). Their homes were routinely inspected to make sure the “rules” were followed.  Workers circumvented the strict rules by getting their “fixes” on merchant riverboats outside Fordlandîa’s jurisdiction and hid their “contraband” inside fruits such as watermelons.

In contrast to Henry Ford’s strict rules about  booze, workers in plants owned by John and Horace Dodge in Detroit had beer served to them in the factory and the forge. You can read more about that here.

 

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