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
Bruce and Irving Kempf began construction on a new model city that
eventually was hailed as the "Mechanical Wonder of the Age".
The Model City is a mechanical city built to the scale of 1/8 inch to
the foot. It is 40 feet in length by 4 feet wide. The entire Model
City is operated by a ½ H.P. motor found in the mountain at the end of
the city. To facilitate ease of handling, it is divided into4 sections
with each section 10 feet in length. The top portion drops down and
connects to the bottom section to form four carrying cases.
The city was fully operational and is a cross section of all American
Cities in the 1920’s, although a few of the buildings were designed
after specific buildings found in the United States. The mechanical
wonder had more than 17,000 moving parts.
The city is fully populated with hand-carved people and has all the
necessities of life. Automobiles that travel along the streets are
serviced by a corner gasoline station. Most of the autos are Fords, as
one of the largest local industries is Ford Motor Company housed in a
model of the original Ford Motor Company Building in Detroit.
When the cars wear out, there is even a junkyard filled with tires and
For (19 years) it was displayed from coast to coast and throughout
Canada: The Century of Progress, Chicago: Atlantic City’s Steel Pier:
Great Lakes Exposition, Cleveland: and Lakeside Park, Denver, Canadian
National Exhibition and all the major State Fairs in the United
States. During the Christmas seasons it was displayed in major
department stores across the United States: Sangers in Dallas: J.L.
Hudson, Detroit: Famous and Barr. St. Louis:, Gimbles, Milwaukee;
Marshall Fields, Chicago; and many large movie lobbies from New York
City to San Francisco. The Model City went into storage at the onset
of WW II due to gasoline rations.
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