Deere Historic Site Opens for 50th Year
May 08, 2014
John Deere's first home in Illinois is celebrating an important milestone. The John Deere Historic Site in Grand Detour, Illinois opened last weekend for its 50th year as a historic and educational attraction.
Site manager, Brian Holst, says John Deere moved from Vermont to Grand Detour in 1836 at the urging of a previous employer.
"That person and his family had already moved west and they'd settled the town of Grand Detour and they needed a blacksmith. So on one of his trips back east, he convinced John (Deere) to look very seriously at the business opportunities here in the far western frontier of the US at that time."
And that's where he made his first self-scouring steel plow, the invention that ultimately led to the formation of the company named for him, with operations around the world, and yearly sales now in the billions of dollars.
Holst says visitors can stand where he stood to make that plow.
"There was an archaeological excavation back in 1963 and '64 where they un-earthed the actual footprint of the building. You could tell where the forge, anvil, and shearing table was, and where the horse treadmill was."
The historic site also includes a replica shop where blacksmiths demonstrate the craft, the Deere home, and food garden.
Holst says the John Deere Historic Site hosts about 10,000 visitors a year, from the US and many foreign countries. It also hosts special events, starting on May 17th with a gardening symposium, and ending with an art festival in the fall. The site is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 9 to 5, from May through October.
(photo of the replica blacksmith shop courtesy of the John Deere Historic Site)