John Deere & Company

Most people are familiar with the existence of public and university libraries, but did you know that many companies also have their own libraries?  The John Deere & Company World Headquarters in Moline, Illinois is one of them.  The library serves John Deere’s employees, both for their research as well as for their enrichment.  Many of the library’s books are related to science and technology, however, the library also has business books, as well as books that make reference to John Deere & Company.  Additionally, the library provides its employees with databases and other resources that can help them with their research.

Known for its tractors, John Deere is the largest agricultural machinery company in the world.  However, it was founded in 1837 (182 years ago), before the tractor was invented.  The founder of the company was, unsurprisingly, John Deere.  Born in Vermont in 1804, John Deere moved to Grand Detour, Illinois in 1836, which was the western frontier of the United States at the time.  Since blacksmiths were a dime a dozen in Vermont, he decided to seek better opportunities in Illinois.

While working as a blacksmith in rural Illinois, Deere frequently heard famers complain about how their plows did not work well in the thick, Midwestern soil.  Whereas iron plows worked well in New England, in the Midwest, the soil would stick to the plow, making it heavy and frequently in need of cleaning.  Therefore, Deere experimented and ultimately created a plow that worked well, because it was finely polished and made of steel.  As farmers started to realize how well Deere’s plows worked in comparison to other plows, Deere had to produce more plows for the growing demands.  He eventually hired more staff and created his company.  Ten years later, he moved from Grand Detour to Moline because the latter was closer to the Mississippi River, which meant that the plows could be shipped to other places outside of Illinois more easily.

Today, John Deere & Company still has its headquarters in rural Moline, because that is the heart of the American Midwest, where the majority of farming in the United States occurs.  Although the company no longer sells plows, it continues to create and sell innovative farming tools, which is why the company has lasted for so long.

Who knew that one man’s attempts to improve a simple farming tool could leave such an impactful legacy?  Not only does his company continue to serve famers in the United States and throughout the world today, but his invention was also instrumental in encouraging people to settle in the American Midwest in the first place.

Sources and Further Reading

If you are interested, the John Deere Historic Site in Grand Detour, IL provides free tours of Deere’s home and the archaeological site where his blacksmith shop was.  Additionally, visitors can watch a blacksmith at work at a recreated blacksmith shop:

You can also request factory tours at both the John Deere Headquarters in Moline, as well as at their other major location in Waterloo, Iowa:

The Iowa location also contains a John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum, which I have not visited:

More Info about John Deere can be found here:


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