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Old 03-28-2004, 05:35   #1 (permalink)
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U.S.A.:Rouge factory tours already a hit

Back after 25 years, plant visits begin May 3 and are sold out for first few weeks

By R.J. King / The Detroit News



DEARBORN — The soon-to-be-relaunched public tours at Ford Motor Co.’s historic Rouge industrial complex already are drawing brisk ticket sales.

Group ticket sales are especially strong for the factory tours, which begin May 3 after a 25-year hiatus. Individual tickets will be available starting April 12, said Steve Hamp, president of The Henry Ford in Dearborn, which is operating the Rouge tours and also runs the The Henry Ford museum and Greenfield Village.

“Tour group operators from across the state and out of state are showing great interest in the Ford Rouge Factory Tour,” Hamp said. “That’s an early bellwether for us that the tours will be popular.”

The Rouge tours began in 1924 and were a popular event that showcased Ford’s manufacturing might to thousands of visitors. The Rouge, which opened in 1917, was the world’s largest manufacturing facility, set on more than 1,000 acres near Interstate 94 and Rotunda.

The region’s tourism industry, hampered by the sluggish economy, rising gas prices and concerns over terrorist attacks, could get a welcome boost from the factory tours.

Highlights of the Rouge tour, costing adults $14, will include a lineup of memorable cars produced at the factory, including the 1929 Model A roadster, the 1956 Thunderbird and the 2004 Ford F-150 pickup.

Visitors will be able to view the F-150 production from an elevated walkway inside a new plant. Two theaters will showcase triumphs and tragedies at the Rouge, as well as a 360-degree look at how vehicles are made.

An observation deck will provide views of the factory’s living roof, a large patch of sedum designed to limit rain runoff, produce oxygen and insulate the building. A gift shop also will be available.
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