Photo by: Getty Images

Getty Images

Thomas Edison and Henry Ford Were Both Iconic Inventors and Best Friends

By: Joanie Faletto

These two men are the ultimate friendship goal.

August 01, 2019

Two iconic inventors. One adorable tale of best friends. Their world-changing accomplishments are well known, but the genuine friendship of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford makes for a delightful story not many people have heard. Just one brief encounter led to a lifelong bond so strong that the men even ended up buying neighboring vacation homes in Fort Myers, Florida. Friendship goals.

Photo by: Getty Images

Getty Images

BFFs 4 Life

In 1896, Henry Ford attended the convention of the Association of Edison Illuminating Companies in New York. Also in attendance (no surprise) was Thomas Edison, who happened to be Ford's boyhood hero. As any fan would, Ford snuck some candid shots of the man he admired during the conference. Then, it happened: a brief encounter between the two inventors. Edison, who was convinced that electric cars were the way of the future, gave Ford a few words of encouragement on his newly invented quadricycle: "keep at it."

Apparently, that little bit of advice was enough to set the foundation of a friendship that would last for the rest of their lives. Soon enough, the men were exchanging heartfelt birthday messages, like this 1915 greeting of "sixty eight thousand congratulations" from Ford to Edison. And in response, he received a thank you message from Edison that opened with "My dear Mr. Ford," and concluded, "Yours very truly."

Road Trip!

With a best friendship formed, the next step was obvious: road trip! Between 1914 and 1924, Ford and Edison toured the eastern U.S. in Ford cars for a series of camping trips. The BFFs were joined by other famous figures, tire-maker Harvey Firestone and essayist John Burroughs, and branded themselves "the Vagabonds" for their cross-country adventures. The trips functioned as advertisements for Ford cars and Firestone tires, generating headlines like "Millions of Dollars Worth of Brains off on a Vacation" and "Genius to Sleep Under Stars." Of course, the trips were also just a good ol' time with the boys out in the wilderness, where they'd challenge each other to races and tree chopping and high kicking contests during the day and tell stories around the campfire at night.

Till Death Do Us Part

In 1916, the two became neighbors. Vacay neighbors, at least. That year, Ford purchased an estate next to Edison's winter home in Fort Myers, Florida that Edison had purchased in 1885 on his first trip to the Sunshine State. Because, apparently, the two couldn't get enough of their adorable kinship.

Ford's estate, "The Mangoes," sat adjacent to Edison's "Seminole Lodge," and remains there today for visitors to enjoy. In 2003, a nonprofit called The Thomas Edison & Henry Ford Winter Estates was established to protect and preserve the sites. Even now, the estates remain one of the most popular historical attractions in Southwest Florida. The lush site looks exactly as it did back when Edison and Ford were chumming it up.

As for the end of the Edison/Ford saga? Try not to shed a tear. Before death separated the two, Ford bought his own wheelchair so he could commiserate with (and race!) the now wheelchair-ridden Edison. Just after Edison's death, his son Charles noticed test tubes in the room where Edison passed away. He had one sealed up, considering it to hold his father's last breath, and gave it to his best friend, Henry Ford. How's that for a storybook ending?

This article first appeared on Curiosity.com.

Next Up

The Coronavirus: What You Need to Know About the Virus

As the death tolls rise, Coronavirus is on the minds of people all over the world. Learn about this new virus and how we got here. Originally published: 2/20/2020 Updated: 3/9/2020

Farewell, Earth’s Mini-moon

It's time to say goodbye to the mini-moon that's no bigger than your car.

Get Celestial with Lowell Observatory LIVE!

Our friends at Lowell Observatory are serving up our solar system on a platter live!

Scientists Have Discovered Enormous Balloon-Like Structures in the Center of Our Galaxy

There's something really, really big in the middle of our Milky Way galaxy — one of the largest structures ever observed in the region, in fact.

Check Out the Crab Nebula –The Leftovers from a Giant Cosmic Firework

The Crab Nebula sits 6,500 light-years away, and is currently about 11 light-years across. But while it looks pretty from afar, don’t give in to the temptation to visit it up close.

Stuck at Home? What to See in the Night Sky this Month

In times of darkness and incertainty, opt for exploration of wonder in the skies.

Last Call for the King of Planets

This month Jupiter is entering conjunction which means it's the last chance this year to catch a glimpse of the largest planet in our solar system.

Welcome to the Surface of Mars

Through the use of cutting-edge instruments, scientists finally have the opportunity to probe deep beneath the surface and ascertain exactly how the terrestrial planet formed.

Where should we go? The Moon or Mars?

There’s been a lot of excitement around space exploration recently. Astrophysicist Paul M. Sutter discusses the viability between the Moon and Mars.

4 Reasons Why Earth is the Best Planet to Call Home

Since 1970, folks from around the world have gathered together to celebrate Earth Day, an appreciation for all the good stuff we’ve got here on the Earth – and a reminder to try not to mess it up. But what’s so special about the Earth, anyway?