John Deere Plow
1838, American History Museum
A steel blade turned Midwestern mud into the nation’s breadbasket
Author Ian Frazier writes in our 101 Objects Special Issue:
This plow is one of the Smithsonian’s most prized objects, and the unpretentious way it is displayed can be ascribed to an unusually strong love of Democracy in the vicinity. The genius of blacksmith Deere’s innovation was to discard the cast-iron moldboard—the blade—from the traditional plow of the rocky farm fields of the East, and replace it with a dynamically curved moldboard of wrought iron or steel.
Read more of Frazier's essay.