Fordlandia is a Forgotten Piece of Ford History

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When you’ve been around for more than a century, like Ford has, you’re going to have your share of failures. Not everything is going to be a runaway success like the Mustang or the F-150. A place called Fordlandia certainly wasn’t.

The idea behind it was sound enough: cut out the middle man by creating a rubber factory that could supply the material for use in Ford vehicles.

Ford purchased 3,900 square miles of land close to the banks of Brazil’s Rio Topajos, an Amazon River tributary. There, the company constructed not only a rubber plant, which opened in 1927, but employee housing, a healthcare system, and a cafeteria, among other things.

What Ford didn’t do was more important, though.


It didn’t consult the right people about the rubber plants. Those either ended up not having enough topsoil after heavy rains due to poor landscape design or producing fungus from being planted too close to one another.

The Blue Oval also didn’t realize Brazilian workers didn’t enjoy being exposed to the sun the way a 9-5 schedule required them to be or having to attend square dances or eating indigestion-causing American food. The laborers were further frustrated by the fact that their houses weren’t on stilts, which allowed bugs and animals to get inside of them.

Those employees eventually rioted and destroyed the Fordlandia plant – along with some Ford vehicles.

A second attempt at a Ford-owned rubber plantation in the mid-1930s, the nearby Belterra facility, didn’t work out either. The rise of synthetically made rubber doomed that location.

Hit the links below for pictures of the forgotten city of Fordlandia.

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via [Michigan Radio] and [Daily Mail]

photos [Daily Mail]

Derek Shiekhi contributes to a variety of Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including J-K Forum , Jaguar Forums, and 5 Series. He's also a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association.

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