Cyrus McCormick Farm Grist Mill

Not quite a month ago I made the hour and 15 min. drive from my home in Fluvanna County, VA to the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, VA to see my 17 year old daughter compete in the annual “States” competition. I’ve posted a few images from that outing—the last one was the day before yesterday—the shot of three of the massive trusses holding up part of the huge roof of Waldron Arena where much of the competition was held.

On the way back from the Horse Center I spotted a historical marker pointing the way to the farm of Cyrus McCormick—the famous inventor who developed the reaper back in the 1800s. Over the years I’ve driven by that sign dozens of times and always meant to stop one day and see the farm. It was a beautiful early fall afternoon and I had a few hours I could spare so on impulse I took the exit and about 15 minutes after leaving Interstate 64 I was pulling into the parking area at the farm—which the McCormick family called “Walnut Grove.

The farm has been fully restored and of course looks nothing like a real, working farm. It’s probably closer to a Disney attraction than an actual farm, mill and workshop. Everything is so pristine, neat, clean, clipped and manicured and in perfect working order that it really is a museum and showplace and would never be confused with the real deal. Even so–the place is definetly worth seeing. If you should be in Rockbridge County, VA I recommend it.

The place was deserted except for one lovely family from Northern Virginia—a young couple with two adorable little girls. I chatted with them and took a few pictures.

The featured image is a shot taken in the ground level floor of the mill—the massive wooden machinery—as you can see—is most impressive. I didn’t see it work but apparently it does and flour is ground and sold to the tourist public.

Here’s some information from a Wikipedia article: (and here’s the link if you want to read the whole article:

“Cyrus McCormick reportedly designed, built, and tested his reaper all within six weeks at Walnut Grove, although the design may have been merely an improvement upon the similar device developed by his father and his brother Leander over 20 years. Shortly after constructing his first reaper he went on to harvest his first crop with the reaper later that year.

After building his first reaper, Cyrus constantly went back to the drawing board to revise and improve his basic design, coming out with new models almost every decade. Cyrus McCormick moved his base of operations from Rockbridge County, Virginia to Chicago, Illinois in 1847 because of the fertile prairie soil in the Heartland. In 1859, Cyrus Hall McCormick was joined by his brother Leander James McCormick to form the company Cyrus H. McCormick and Brothers.

By the turn of the century, McCormick’s company had built a primitive combine, which could harvest grain much faster and cheaper than McCormick’s older reapers. Because of McCormick’s efforts in making harvesting grain easier and inventing the reaper, his invention allowed farmers the world over harvest grain faster and cheaper than ever before.

Prior to inventing the reaper, farmers could only harvest 0.5-acre (2,000 m2) a day; after the reaper was invented, farmers could harvest 12 acres (49,000 m2) a day. By being able to harvest 12 acres (49,000 m2) a day versus 0.5 acres (2,000 m2) a day, farmers were able to conserve money by using less manual labor.

The mechanical reaper did not require a person to toil all day to harvest crops. Instead, a farmer merely needed to operate the machine and the reaper would do the rest of the work. His work in mechanical reapers and harvesting techniques allowed farmers to cultivate plots of land bigger than ever thought possible.

It (the McCormick farm) was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1964.”

Pretty interesting stuff—to old person (who probably should get out more) like me anyway.

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2 Responses to “Cyrus McCormick Farm Grist Mill”

  1. Laird Bindrim Says:

    Hey Orion,
    Stopped by to check out the article …interesting stuff. Is there any connection with the McCormick brand of spices? My two boys are both older than your daughter, so I guess that puts me in the category you mention at the end of your post.
    Hope your daughter did well…
    Laird (from fotoblur)

  2. orion Says:

    Hi Laird–I really appreciate your visiting my amateurish website. I Just looked through yours and was very impressed–I need to speak to my web person and see about an upgrade.

    I don’t know about the spice company–it’s easy enough to Google I guess :)

    My daughter (Summer) did well–got a second place–that’s pretty cool at that level of competition–we were quite pleased.

    I went back over your fotoblur stream–again–I was very impressed with “Torso” as well as the more recent “Amusement Park” image.
    In looking at the slide show on your site it seems to me we both look at the world a lot alike–probably has to do with the era we come out of–I was born in 1945–or it could just be the photographers who have influenced us.

    If you’re OK with it I’d be honored if we could exchange links–so people going to my site could click over to yours and vice-versa.

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