Cyrus McCormic Farm and Workshop
N 37° 55.951 W 079° 12.826
17S E 656976 N 4199832
Quick Description: McCormick Farm and Mill is where Cyrus Hall McCormick invented the first successful reaper and founded the harvesting machine industry.
Location: Virginia, United States
Date Posted: 12/21/2006 1:02:16 PM
Waymark Code: WM123J
Robert McCormick (the grandfather of Cyrus McCormick) moved from Cumberland County, Pennsylvania in 1779 with his wife Martha and their 5 children. They bought a log house and 450 acres near the Rockbridge/Augusta County line. Robert operated the grist mill on the property and became a quite prosperous farmer. His son, also named Robert, was born in 1780.
By 1812, tax rolls showed the elder Robert owning 4 slaves and 7 horses. His properties included a sawmill, a cider mill, a distillery, two grain mills, and a smokehouse. In 1808 the younger Robert had married Mary Ann Hall (called Polly) of Augusta County. They lived for a time with Robert's father in the old log house, and built the brick manor house in the summer of 1822. Polly filled the house with splendid mahogany furniture from the stores in Lynchburg and Richmond. The younger Robert by this time had also bought the 532 acre home farm, called "Walnut Grove", from his father. One of Robert's sons, Cyrus, was born in 1809.
Cyrus Hall McCormick (1809-1884) conceived plans for his reaper, built and tested it, and then remodled it for public trial, all within six weeks time. McCormick worked far into the night to complete the world's first reaper for the harvest of 1831. A trusted negro helper, Jo Anderson, assisted him in the shop.
McCormick had always been a keen inventor. In 1824, at age 15, Cyrus invented a lightweight cradle for harvesting grain. Cyrus' father, Robert, had worked in the farm's blacksmith shop intermittently since about 1815 on a horse-drawn reaper, but was never successful in perfecting it. He finally abandoned the project at the beginning of the 1831 harvest.
Cyrus picked up where his father had left off and added several key features to his father's design. By the end of the same 1831 harvest, Cyrus had the first successful demonstration of his reaper. Cyrus further refined his reaper, and finally took out a patent in 1834.
McCormick's reaper spread - slowly at first, but then at a pace that quickly outstripped his ability to produce the machines at the Walnut Grove blacksmith shop. In 1847, he moved to Chicago to serve the vast prairie grain fields of the Midwest. Shortly thereafter he sent for his brothers William and Leander, who became partners with Cyrus. By 1856, Cyrus was famous the world over. McCormick's "Virginia Reaper" hastened the westward expansion of the United States, and this expansion produced new markets for the reaper. In 1851, the reaper won the highest award of the day, the Gold Medal at London's Crystal Palace Exhibition, and Cyrus McCormick became a world celebrity. For more informatin on the McCormick Farm: (visit link)
Source/Credit:Shenandoah Valley AREC
The McCormick Farm is located just a short distance from Interstate 81 at Exit 205. From the exit travel south on Route 606 to McCormick Farm Road and turn left.
The McCormick Farm is open daily from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Admission is Free.
McCormick Farm Road
Raphine, Va. United States
County / Borough / Parish: Rockbridge County
Year listed: 1966
Historic (Areas of) Significance: Person: Cyrus H. McCormick, Agriculture, Invention
Periods of significance: 1800 - 1849
Historic function: Agriculture/Subsistence, Domestic
Current function: Agricultural Outbuildings, Research Facility, Historic Exhibits
Privately owned?: no
Season start / Season finish: From: 1/1/2007 To: 12/31/2007
Hours of operation: From: 8:30 AM To: 5:00 PM
Primary Web Site: [Web Link]
Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]
Secondary Website 2: Not listed
National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.