John Deere Historic Site


The pioneer farmers of the early 1800s soon learned that the cast-iron plows they'd brought with them from New England and the Atlantic states were no match for the heavy, sticky soil of the prairies. A blacksmith, John Deere, after experimenting with an old sawmill blade, solved the farmers' problem by making a "self-scouring" plow out of highly polished steel. After further experimentation, Deere commissioned a Pittsburgh steel mill to make a cast-steel plow for him. This new plow was so successful that, in 1868, he incorporated his business as Deere & Company and began engineering a variety of agricultural machinery.

Activity Details

Activity Type:Trips and Destinations
Discipline:Agricultural & Biological, Mechanical
Topic(s):Technology/Materials
Grade:K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Time:Full day

Fun Fact:In 1962, archaeologists from the University of Illinois unearthed the exact location where John Deere developed the first successful steel plow in 1837. The location has been preserved in an exhibit hall, which shows how the dig was performed.