March 6, Keokuk IA
We spend much of the day seeing Green and Yellow. Green and yellow are the colors of the John Deere Company.
We toured the combine assembly plant in East Moline, IL. This is the largest combine manufacturing facility in the world. There are 73 acres under roof in this facility. John Deere has a major presence in this area and in the IA-IL region with numerous manufacturing plants around here to complement the overseas plants in Brazil, India, China and Germany.
John Deere was a blacksmith originally from Vermont. He manufactured the first steel plow back around 1830. A steel plow as smoother than the previous iron ones. Because of this smoothness, dirt did not adhere to the plow and plowing was faster and easier. From this humble beginning arose the manufacturing giant of today. Deere says almost half of the food harvested in the world is done with Deere products.
Our one and a half hour tour began at 8 AM. Chris was the only female. It seemed like all of the others were young men who farmed but we never did verify that. The tour is via a motorized tram and the guides are retired Deere employees. The tram takes you all over the facility and you observe the entire assembly and painting process. No pictures allowed on the tour.
Combines are not manufactured until an order has been placed. It takes 10-14 days to manufacture the combine. The plant operates 24 hours a day. For nine months of the year, there are shifts 7 days per week. For three months of the year, there are shifts 5 days per week. Deere does not reveal how many combines it makes but obviously it is quite a few.
In the visitor area is a combine with a corn header. The header or front attachment changes depending if you are harvesting corn, soybeans, rice, wheat, etc. The combine then separates the grain from the stalk and grinds up the stalk material. The combine on display cost $500,000. The corn header was $200,000.
From the factory tour we visited the Deere World Headquarters where a few more implements were on display. Then we headed to downtown Moline and visited the John Deere Pavilion. This is the centerpiece of a downtown revitalization project on land that previously was used as a manufacturing facility.
The exhibits here discussed the history of the company with more displays. One interactive area allows you to operate several Deere construction machines. I was totally incompetent. It renewed my appreciation for the Public Works employees I used to work with and supervise decades ago.
The displays included a robotic grass mower which mows your yard automatically, a automatic tractor for agricultural work,and a 6 legged robotic tree cutter. None of these are on the market in the US but it demonstrates their commitment to research and improvement.
We walked a few blocks to an ice cream/candy/sandwich shop in downtown Moline that has been in business for over 100 years. Besides testing their malts and shakes (very good), we had excellent soup (red pepper Gouda bisque) and sandwiches. We have been enjoying great soups lately; with the turkey/bacon/cheese bisque at the Grand Ely Lodge and the crab bisque yesterday with Shannon and Adam.
After lunch it was on to Nauvoo, IL. This town of just over 1100 souls (per the fantastic counting work of the U.S. Census Bureau) was once the second largest city in Illinois. As you may know, the vast majority of the Mormons left Nauvoo beginning in 1846 for Utah after founder Joseph Smith and his brother were killed by a mob in a local jail.
I am not going to try to cover the multitude of opinions and historical facts on this but certainly the locals disliked the Mormon united action that gave them control of the town. Their conservative beliefs were not popular in the frontier area, nor were their armed militia entirely passive either. In any event, Nauvoo became a much smaller town.
Today the old area is being re-constructed and the Church of the Latter Day Saints maintains a visitors center and gives tours of re-constructed buildings to demonstrate life as it was in the mid-1800s. We took in a video, read some historic accounts of the persecution and pilgrimage to Utah, etc.
As we were leaving, one of the docents invited us to the show this evening, titled “Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo”. So we came back for the hour long show at 7 pm. 35 cast members entertained the 25 of us in the audience. (Winter is not a big tourist time in Nauvoo. Summer must be better as there are numerous bus parking lots.) Chris and I were probably the only dis-interested audience members.
The show was a skit, maybe more of a morality play, depicting the persecution of the good people of Nauvoo and their decision to willingly take the 1300 mile “hike” to Utah. It was a different experience than coming back to the hotel and going for a swim.
We are starting to see patches of earth without snow on it. Friday-warmth???
Ed and Chris 11:20 pm