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Dixon, Illinois: John Deere Historic Site

Free attraction marks the spot where John Deere invented the steel self-scouring plow. A museum, blacksmithing demonstrations, a statue of Deere, an archaeological dig showing the remains of his original forge, and a gift shop.

8334 S. Clinton St., Dixon, IL
I-88 exit 54 for IL-26. Follow signs for Dixon/Hometown of President Ronald Reagan/John Deer Historic Site and merge onto IL-26 N./S. Galena Ave. Turn right onto E. 2nd St. Continue onto IL-2/Ravine Ave. Turn left onto W. Canal St. Turn right at the first cross street onto S. Clinton St.
Apr-Oct Tu 1-5, W-Sa 9-5, Su 1-5 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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John Deere statue.

John Deere Historic Site

John Deere, the company namesake, was a Vermont blacksmith who was beckoned westward by the opportunity of expansion to the hinterlands. Settling on the Rock River in northern Illinois, he made a fortune and changed history with the invention of the first steel self-scouring plow, "the plow that broke the plains," on this very site.

The midwestern soil was fertile but sticky with clay, making it all but unworkable with iron plows. Deere experimented with steel, polished the metal, developed a unique plow shape, and the lucky combination proved to be an agricultural game-changer.

It's free to visit the site, where you'll find an interpretive film, a museum, blacksmithing demonstrations, a giant statue of Deere, historical markers, and even an archaeological dig showing the remains of Deere's original forge. Not precisely offbeat, but it is a great stop related to the westward expansion of the USA, a seminal moment for its agricultural abundance, and a 19th century analog to the Silicon Valley garage of the 1970s.

[Martin Lewison, 08/06/2021]

Nearby Offbeat Places

Ronald Reagan's Lifeguard PlaqueRonald Reagan's Lifeguard Plaque, Dixon, IL - 4 mi.
Only Statue of Lincoln in UniformOnly Statue of Lincoln in Uniform, Dixon, IL - 5 mi.
Fake Berlin WallFake Berlin Wall, Dixon, IL - 5 mi.
In the region:
Beyer Field: Home of the Rockford Peaches, Rockford, IL - 29 mi.

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