Grand Detour, Illinois

     Grand Detour is a very small community that has the Rock River on two sides of the town, as it sits in the large bend the river makes. We often call it by Grand Detuna, which is how my little brother pronounced it many years ago. For some odd reason, we love to mispronounce and mis-say certain things in this family - gives us pleasure, and often evokes a great memory of how the mispronounciation or mis-saying came about, I guess. I think I could probably write a book with all the ones we have used and often still use from over the years. But I am getting off the subject! Grand Detour started as a river town, but as the river traffic, which wasn't much to begin with dwindled, it never really grew. It is most famous for being the site where John Deere invented the first steel plow and they have renovated his area and home and it is quite an impressive place to tour. There is a sign in the rest area that is across the highway from where the site is located and I have written (copied) the information from the sign - as it explains this all much better than I can.


    Early French Traders who traveled the Rock River named the large bend southwest of this point, Grand Detour. Winnebago and Poawatomi villages in the area made it a prominent location for fur trading posts, and during the 1820s the United States Government granted licenses to traders at "Grand Detour on Rocky River."

    Permanent settlement at Grand Detour began after Leonard Andrus travelled up the Rock River in 1834 in search of a town site. Impressed by the natural beauty of the region and the power and transportation potential of the river, Andrus claimed the land and in 1836 laid out a village.

    A year later John Deere, a Vermont Blacksmith, settled in Grand Detour. While working in his shop, Deere heard farmers lament that the rich Illinois soil stuck t the wooden and iron plows they had brought from the East. Deere tackled the problem and shaped a steel plow out of a discarded saw blade from the Andrus Sawmill. The soil slid smoothly of the highly polished steel surface, and as the demand for his plows increased, Deere began production using steel imported from England and later from Pennsylvania. High freight costs forced him to seek better transportation facilities, and in 1847, he moved from Grand Detour to Moline, Illinois, on the Mississippi River, where he began manufacturing plows in quantity.

    Since the Rock River was never developed for navigation and the railroads bypassed the community, Grand Detour retains much of its nineteenth century atmosphere.

Erected by the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois State Historical Society, 1987


The following are pictures of the John Deere site, with his blacksmith shop and home and the gift shop.

JohnDeereShop   JohnDeereHome   JohnDeereHome2

     The area where the information sign for Grand Detour is located, is a small rest area with some picnic tables and an area for river access for fishing. There is another sign there that tells the history of the rest area site.



     Near here was the landing site of the upper ferry, one of two ferries providing the first established crossing of the Rock River into Grand Detour. Authorized by the local government in 1837, they were the sole means of commercial access to the south and east until the first Rock River bridge was established in 1907.

The following pictures were taken at the rest area of the area and the Rock River.

RestAreaOnRock   RestAreaOnRock2   RestAreaOnRock3

Oregon Index
White Pines State Park
Castle Rock State Park
Castle Rock Boat Access Pictures
Castle Rock Picnic & Trail Area Pictures
Lowden State Park
Lowden-Miller State Forest
Mt. Morris, Illinois
Byron, Illinois
Grand Detour, Illinois
Dixon, Illinois