May 7th, 1837: The John Deere Steel Plow


In the annals of agricultural history, few inventions have had as profound an impact as the John Deere steel plow. In 1837, a blacksmith named John Deere in Grand Detour, Illinois, revolutionized farming practices by creating the first commercially successful self-scouring steel plow.

Before John Deere’s innovation, pioneer farmers faced significant challenges. The plows they used were made of cast iron, which proved cumbersome and ineffective for cutting and turning the tough prairie soil. As they worked the land, farmers had to frequently pause to clear off soil that clung to their plows.

John Deere, like many inventors, identified a problem and set out to solve it. He knew two key facts: Farmers in Illinois struggled with cast-iron plows that required constant soil clearing.  Steel, if well-polished, allowed soil to slide off easily. Although steel was scarce in the area, Deere decided to create a test moldboard out of a second-hand blade.

Deere’s steel plow wasn’t just made of a different material; its design was also groundbreaking. The moldboard (the curved part that turns the soil) was shaped differently from others of the day. It was essentially a parallelogram, curved in a concave fashion. Deere’s careful consideration of the moldboard’s shape ensured efficient soil turnover after the share made the cut.

From that pivotal moment in 1837, John Deere’s legacy has grown exponentially. The company, which started with the success of the first steel plow, now manufactures a wide range of advanced machinery. Modern farmers benefit from tillage equipment that can tackle far more work than the original steel plow ever could. While Deere’s first invention could only handle a small portion of today’s agricultural tasks, it laid the foundation for the powerful machinery used on farms worldwide. John Deere’s ingenuity had a tremendous impact on agriculture. His invention not only made farmers’ lives easier, but also contributed to the growth of modern farming practices.
Images sourced from Google images 

Check out this special clip from the video, “The Blacksmith’s Gift,” starring Monty Blue as John Deere. In this epic moment, John Deere builds his first steel plow in 1837.

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