John Deere Tractors

By: Sophie Brandau

An Industrial Inventor

Eli Whitney came up with the idea to use interchangeable parts in 1798 to make muskets. As industries and factories arose, people moved from farms to cities. This led to other issues including overcrowding and disease. John Deere created the first steel plow in 1837, helping speed up farming across the Midwest.

In 1837, John Deere was a typical blacksmith turning out hayforks, horseshoes, and other essentials for life on the prairie. He knew that days in the field were difficult for farmers near his home in Grand Detour, Illinois, because they had to interrupt their work to clean the sticky prairie soil off of their cast-iron plows. He also knew that the soil would slide easily off of a highly polished steel moldboard.

The moldboard was also shaped differently than others of the day. "It is essentially a parallelogram, curved in a concave fashion. Deere must have given a great deal of thought to the shape, to the special curve of his moldboard, for its exact contours would determine just how well the soil would be turned over after the share had made the cut."

He constantly tested his products and changed his designs based on suggestions from customers. His research paid off and by 1849, his business was booming -- he produced 2,000 plows that year.

Today, 175 years after John Deere created his steel plow, the company provides advanced products and services for those whose work is linked to the land, including a few very modern varieties on John Deere's original plow.