John Deere in 1837 invented a plow that could be used successfully in the sticky, root-filled soil of the prairie. It was called a steel plow. Actually, it appears that only the cutting edge, the share, on the first Deere plows was steel. The moldboard was smoothly ground wrought iron.Deere's invention succeeded because, as the durable steel share of the plow cut through the heavy earth, the sticky soil could find no place to cling on its polished surfaces.
of hard times, will be reduced from last year's prices. Grand Detour, Feb. 3, 1843.
This raised two questions: Why, and for how long, was wrought iron used for the moldboards of the Deere plows? Of what material is the moldboard of the 1838 plow made? During the first few years, when production was very small, there were probably enough worn out mill saws available for the relatively few plows made. As production increased this source must have become inadequate. Ardrey gives the following figures for the production of plows by Deere and Andrus: 1839, 10 plows; 1840, 40 plows; 1841, 75 plows; 1842, 100 plows; 1843, 400 plows. Ardrey states further that "by this time the difficulty of obtaining steel in the quantity and quality needed had become a serious obstacle in the way of further development." The statement, quoted above, that the moldboard was of wrought iron and the statistics on production of plows during the 1840's and 1850's belie Ardrey's claim that it was a serious obstacle, nor is ther
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