Sunday 19th July 1942
At the invitation of Henry Ford, George Washington Carver, head of the famed Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, arrived in Dearborn to work on developing a synthetic rubber to help compensate for wartime rubber shortages. When Carver arrived, he set up a laboratory in an old water works building in Dearborn. He and Ford experimented with different crops, including sweet potatoes and dandelions, eventually devising a way to make the rubber substitute from goldenrod, a plant weed. Both Ford and Carver were deeply interested in the regenerative properties of soil and the potential of alternative crops such as peanuts and soybeans to produce plastics, paint, fuel and other products. Ford had long believed that the world would eventually need a substitute for gasoline, and supported the production of ethanol (or grain alcohol) as an alternative fuel. Carver died in January 1943.