Deere & Company Celebrate 150 Years

By Staff
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This year Deere & Company celebrates a corporate milestone
that few American industrial companies have attained-the 150th
anniversary of continuously doing business under the same name.

The event that led to the founding of the company in 1837, while
unheralded at the time, changed the course of an important segment
of U.S. history: the agricultural development of the bountiful
midwestern prairies by eastward moving frontiersmen and women.

Working in a small blacksmith shop in the tiny village of Grand
Detour, Illinois, a ‘smithy’ from New England named John
Deere set out to solve a problem that was plaguing the farmers who
were arriving in the midwest from the east in increasing
numbers.

The problem was simple: the fertile midwestern soil was so
sticky that it gummed up on the farmers’ plows. This meant they
had to stop their teams of horses every few steps and scrape the
plow blade clean.

This was a laborious task and was so discouraging to some
frontier farmers that they were beginning to pack up and return
east. John Deere had been in Illinois for less than a year in 1837,
having migrated from Vermont, when word of this dilemma caught his
attention and his craftsman’s imagination. He set out to find a
solution to the problem and, by changing the material used in the
plow from cast iron to steel, he succeeded.

Deere soon showed he had as much talent as a marketer as he did
as an inventor and his new self-scouring plow became a hit with
farmers. Within ten years, the farm equipment business of John
Deere had grown at such a pace that he decided to move it to the
Mississippi River town of Moline, Illinois, to take advantage of
the water power and better transportation facilities.

During 1987, Deere & Company will engage in activities to
celebrate its 150th birthday. Events such as antique tractor
competitions, factory and office open houses, displays of farm
machinery that John Deere produced over the years and special
events at the John Deere Historic Site at Grand Detour, will mark
the anniversary year.

Special activities surrounding the 150th anniversary of John
Deere’s business that are open to the public include the
equipment museum at the Deere & Company Administrative Center
on John Deere Road in Moline, Illinois. The special display shows
an evolution of equipment produced throughout the history of the
company. The display is open year round daily from 9 a.m. to 5
p.m.

Also of special interest is the John Deere Historic Site at
Grand Detour, Illinois. The site includes John Deere’s original
Illinois home, a replica of his first blacksmith shop, an
archaeological exhibit supplemented with audio visual programs at
the location of the original blacksmith shop and the restored home
of a former neighbor of John Deere. For information call
815-652-4551.

The John Deere Historic Site is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
from March 1 to November 30. Fee is $1 for those 16 and older.

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