Kempf Model City

Mechanical Marvel - Capac, Michigan

Inside the Capac Historical Museum the "Mechanical Wonder of the Ages" is on display. It is being refurbished. The Model City is remarkable for its size and detail. When fully functioning it looks like an actual living city. Lights inside most of the structure reveal that life in “Model City” is not restricted to the streets. A man rocks comfortably in a chair inside the Maxwell Coffee House, and a new fire engine is poised inside the doors of the fire station.” Blue lights flash on and off at the welding factory indicating a night shift at work.”  A general store on the main drag displays bananas and other fresh fruit.

model city

All the more remarkable is the fact that the whole thing runs on small sewing machine motors and belts, no transistors and no computer chips.  It is a great thing to preserve since I can't see how one could be built from scratch today.

The original Kempf Model City was constructed in the early 1900's by Fred S. Kempf. He completed the work between the ages of 16 and 21. He made every single part by hand from scrap materials. The Mechanical Wonder was hailed as one of the most remarkable constructions of the time and was shown at events all over America. Then during a terrible train crash, the model city was destroyed. Fred Kempf and his wife lost their lives in that same train wreck in 1915.

More about the Kempf Model City.

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The historical museum in Capac is another unique Michigan day trip.