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John Deere was the first American to develop a cast steel plow. He was born in Rutland, Vermont, and served a four-year apprenticeship to a blacksmith and worked in that trade until 1837. He then moved to Grand Detour, Illinois. The equipment being used by the pioneer farmers of that day were cumbersome and ineffective for cutting and turning the prairie soil.

To lessen the problem, Deere and a partner, Major Leonard Andrus, designed three new plows in 1838. Their cutting part was made from steel cut from an old sawmill blade and shaped by bending it over a log. The moldboard, used for lifting and turning, was made of wrought iron and polished on the upper surface to prevent clogging. The plow was so successful that by 1846 Deere and his partner were selling a thousand a year. Deere then sold his interest in the Grand Detour enterprise to Andrus and organized a plow company in Moline, Illinois. After experimenting with imported English steel, he had a cast steel plow made for him in Pittsburgh. By 1855 he was selling more than 13,000 such plows a year. In 1868 his business was incorporated as Deere & Company, which is still around today.

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