The Reaper Revolution
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In 1851, Cyrus' reaper won the highest award of the day: A gold medal at London's Crystal Palace Exhibition. Cyrus became a world celebrity and an international sensation.
The reaper's efficient production power wasn't the only thing that made them popular. Cyrus was a savvy businessman and used newspaper ads, product warranties and installment plans to boost sales. By 1870, Cyrus sold more than 10,000 reapers a year.
It seemed nothing could stop the growth of Cyrus' reaper business -until fire engulfed the factory in 1871, leveling his Chicago facility and destroying $2 million in inventory. Cyrus was distraught with grief, but vowed to rebuild the factory bigger and better than ever before.
The fire was a blessing in disguise because it essentially destroyed an outdated factory. Annual reaper capacity of the old factory was limited, but the new factory had a whopping 300,000 feet of floor space, including ample testing fields.
In 1873, the new factory opened its doors, positioning Cyrus and his company for a successful and lucrative future in the reaper and farm machinery market, which ultimately led to the formation of International Harvester Co. in 1902.
- For additional information about McCormick's reaper revolution, read 300 Years of Farm Implements by Ron Barlow or International Harvester Farm Equipment by Ralph Baumheckel and Kent Borghoff.
Cyrus McCormick's farm
Visit Cyrus McCormick's Virginia farm in Steeles Tavern, Va., which is a National Historic Landmark. A grist mill and a blacksmith shop - as well as a life-sized replica of the original reaper and other farm equipment - are on display. Admission is free. For more information, call (540) 377-2255 or visit www. vaes.vt.edu/steeles/mccormick/mccormick.html
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