The John Deere Historic Site opens its gates to the public for its 56th season on Monday, March 2, at 1pm. Located in Grand Detour, the site is the original Illinois homestead of John Deere and where he built his first self-scouring steel plow. This year, guests will be treated to an updated archeologic exhibit with new hands-on features that explore a blacksmith anvil and a replica of John Deere’s first plow. They will also learn more about the story behind the birthplace of the company.

Also new this year, the John Deere Historic Site will host a special family event on Saturday, October 10, 2020. Forge Into Fall Fun is the site’s signature event, celebrating the age-old trade of blacksmithing and the bounty of the fall harvest season. Guests will see dozens of blacksmiths and other artisans crafting one-of-a-kind pioneer-era items while kids can decorate pumpkins, bob for apples, pet farm animals, and take horse-and-wagon rides.

“We are very excited to open our doors to the public and show off our new exhibit, enhancing the experience guests have when they visit,” said Kristen Veto, manager of the John Deere Pavilion. “Coming to the John Deere Historic Site is like taking a step back in time. From watching a blacksmith demonstration to seeing how John Deere and his family lived, there is so much to explore and learn about an important part of history.”

John Deere Historic Site Exhibits

Blacksmith Shop:A highlight of any visit to the site includes seeing a recreation of John Deere’s original blacksmith shop. Entering the exhibit is like walking into a time warp to early pioneer days as guests see the shop as it would have looked over a century ago. Throughout the day, resident blacksmiths demonstrate what it takes to be a skilled ironworker. Works created by the blacksmiths along with a variety of John Deere licensed products are sold in the site’s Gift Shop.

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Deere Family Home:The original home John Deere built in 1836 gives an intimate glimpse of pioneer life. Visitors see how the Deere family raised eight children and accommodated live-in apprentices in their six-room home. See the rooms as the Deere family would have known them, furnished with period household items that show how pioneers cooked, cleaned, bathed, and spent their few leisure hours.

Archeological Site:In 1963, an archeology team uncovered the exact location where John Deere forged his first self-scouring steel plow. While visitors look over the preserved site and see firsthand the excavated artifacts, a video tells the story of how John Deere built a thriving manufacturing business. New features uncover Deere’s story according to neighbors at the time and provide a hands-on element.

Gift Shop:This one-of-a-kind gift shop sells hand-forged items made in the blacksmith shop. A selection of John Deere licensed items and other Historic Site merchandise is available.

When visiting the John Deere Historic Site, guests can register for the free John Deere Passport Program to commemorate their experience. By collecting seals and stamps in a passport booklet, participants earn gifts and discounts along the way.

The John Deere Historic Site is open March through December. Gates are open Monday 1–5pm and Tuesday–Saturday 9am–5pm; the facility is closed Sunday. Admission is free. For more information, please call 815‑652‑4551, or go to VisitJohnDeere.com.