A Travellerspoint blog

Des Moines, Iowa City and Moline, IL

Interesting sites along the way

sunny 89 °F

(Thursday) Yesterday's blog got verbose with my description of the Iowa State Capitol building. After touring the Capitol building I walked down the hill to the State Historical Museum of Iowa. Several people that I toured the Capitol building with were at the Museum so we renewed our acquaintances. We all had a nice lunch at the museum's cafe. The museum was well done, better than some others. It covered topics, such as Iowa History 101, Iowa and the Civil War, Nature's Delicate Balance (cropland vs. urban expansion). Iowans take their food production very seriously for they realize they are an important key to feeding the world population. Topics were Saving Our Stuff, Riding Through History, You Gotta Know the Territory, and Hollywood in the Heartland, and 99 Counties of Iowa. I covered much of this in yesterday's blog. Iowa inherited hundreds of thousands immigrants during the Westward Expansion period and benefited greatly from the new citizens.

(Friday) Moving eastward to Iowa City to the Elks Club for an overnight stay I unhooked the car and drove into the city. Yesterday I called my good friend's granddaughter at the University of Iowa to offer her a meal in exchange for a campus tour. Emma Brown is a sophomore student at the University's prestigious famed Writing Center. She is very involved in various activities in leadership roles and also in volunteerism. Emma and I met on the steps of the Old State Capitol building, the center of the campus. Founded in 1847 and with a student body of 30K+ students, the walking tour led to a driving tour for it is spread out. After seeing the sites we ended up in the off-campus restaurant neighborhood where we enjoyed dinner together in one of her favorite places. The Jayhawks colors of gold & black are everywhere. Like all Big Ten schools they support their teams with enthusiasm. As you may recall, Emma and her family were so kind to me when I was marooned in Athens, OH for 16 days in June waiting for my car to be repaired. So glad I stopped to see Emma.

(Saturday) On my eastward trek to Illinois I chose a campground midway between Moline and Peoria. The campground is literally carved out of cornfields. It is in a small group of trees, with about 100 campsites. I went for a walk in the evening to stretch my legs and to chat with some campers along the way.
Enroute to the campground I stopped in Moline, IL to visit the John Deere Company's Visitor Center. For years it has been on my 'bucket list' and it was not a disappointment. John Deere was a man and blacksmith from Rutland, VT. In 1837, seeking opportunity in the Westward migration he built a blacksmith shop in Grand Tour, IL where he conceived the idea of making plows with polished surfaces. The smooth surface of his plows allowed the sticky soil to slide off as it turned the soil over. It was quickly embraced by farmers of the time and his business grew. And grow it did for today the Deere company employs 56,000 people and has annual revenues exceeding $1 billion and has manufacturing plants in 2 dozen counties around the world. There are 6 plants located in IL and IA.
He moved to Moline, IL in 1848 to be near the Mississippi River and its transportation network. It was not until 1910 that the company expanded into farm tractor production. The John Deere Visitor Center displays various machines telling the company story. For example, there are tractors displayed from the original 2 cylinder "Johnny Popper" to the 4610 introduced in the 1950's, one of the most successful tractors in history. A timber/logging machine, a huge construction front-end loader, a huge crawler "bulldozer" (a separate construction equipment division), a 4 wheel drive tractor with GPS, A/C, refrigerator, leather seat, TV, stereo-all the bells & whistles of a Lexus, and, of course, a combine with cab equipped the same way were in the large pavilion. The combine inside was the 3rd largest in their line for the other 2 could not fit into the building. They have cutting heads of up to 45' wide. My docent told of a contract harvestor (a woman) who buys 10 John Deere combines every two years. Her company travels with seasonal crops maturing from south to north harvesting for farmers along the way. Each machine costs over 1/2 million dollars and with interchangable cutting heads can harvest crops of corn, cotton, sugar beets and soybeans. Another machine on display was a remote tractor being developed for the fruit industry. Driverless, it can be programmed to fertilize and spray in apple orchards, vineyards, etc. for 24 hrs. if necessary. Another product- - a remotely programmed lawn mower soon to be marketed in Europe for European's lawns are smaller than those in the US. The lawn's boundries are determined by a buried wire much like an invisible dog collar concept. It can be operated 24 hrs a day and when the battery needs charging it returns to its 'dog house' recharging station for more 'juice'.

(Sunday) A day to do laundry. Then its on to Peoria to the Catepillar World Headquarters for a tour before heading to Springfield, the Capitol.

Posted by dixter 06:23 Archived in USA Tagged of center iowa john visitor deere univ

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