Scenic USA - Virginia

McCormick Farm

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McCormick Farm - Raphine, Virginia

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

     Often noted as a peaceful revolution, Cyrus McCormick's mechanical reaper earned the greatest award of its day and helped American farmers to become the most efficient in the world. Here at Walnut Grove in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, visitors may tour McCormick's blacksmith shop, gristmill, museum and five acre family farm. Currently part of the Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Research and Extension Center, the farm's gristmill, workshop and the McCormick Manor House are all National Historic Landmarks.
     Just 22 years old, Cyrus H. McCormick demonstrated the world's first mechanical reaper in a field of oats in front of a crowd of Virginia neighbors, harvesting grain five times faster than any previous method. For centuries harvesting farm acreage was backbreaking work, using hand tools such as sickles or scythes. McCormick Manor House - Cyrus McCormick‘s Farm, Raphine, Virginia By 1834 the Virginia Reaper was patented and eventually outstripping McCormick's ability to produce the machines in his blacksmith shop.
     By 1847, Cyrus McCormick his two brothers set up business in Chicago, producing the patented reaper and a combine harvester by the end of the century. McCormick's success was not only due to his inventiveness, but a business formula that included easy credit, written guarantees, farming education and a willingness to entertain new ideas.
     The McCormick family remained on the Walnut Grove farm until 1954 when it was donated to the Virginia Polytechnic Institute. The two acre site, containing nine buildings, was set aside as the McCormick Memorial Plot. The center continues to tell the Walnut Grove story and explain the impact which the McCormicks had on the world.

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