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Oh Deere, A Traveling Gothic

• CATEGORIES: Features

I tried to tell her that it wasn’t a ‘pole’, but that didn’t stop her ….

Yesterday we slowed down a little so that we could check into our hotel early and get Ann some rest. To kill some time, we did a little sightseeing.

First, we stopped in Peoria. The city took us by surprise. Peoria sits on a river bank overlooking the Illinois River. Knowing nothing about the city, I had assumed it would be a small city with an industry feel. So, we were surprised to see a fairly modern looking city with a park along the river that lined much of downtown. Our reason for stopping there was to take a photo with a huge American Gothic statute, one that has spent the last decade traveling around to different museums.


That stop got us looking around the city a little bit. There’s a really cool looking Caterpillar Visitors center downtown (see this site for some pics), but it didn’t open until 10am. We couldn’t wait that long, so we took off, but we’d like to visit again to check out that, the “The Art of the Brick” display, and some of the other spots.

Here’s Ann at a nearby monument in downtown Peoria.


Downtown Peoria. That’s Lincoln on the building looking at a War Memorial.

Our next stop was the John Deere Harvester Works plant in East Moline. The plant builds Combines and offers free tours. So, we took advantage of that.


The tour consisted first of a movie, which was pretty much just a sales video rather than a historical look at the company (we would have preferred the latter. Then, folks board a tram and a guide drives you around the plant, while a second guide entertains and informs visitors, explaining how things worked. The plant contains 70+ acres of covered building space, so it’s a pretty large setup.

The tour was worth the admission price and was pretty interesting, but at times it was tough to tell what was happening. That’s because, due to safety concerns, we couldn’t get too close. Also, there was no photography allowed during the tour. They claimed some mumbo jumbo about proprietary technology, but Ann and I believe it was simply because they didn’t want folks on their phones (or dropping their phones) during the tour. Besides, it would have been a hard place to photograph while moving in a tram.

After the John Deere, we made a quick stop at Antique Archeaolgy, the shop made famous by American Pickers.


One (are there more?) vans that appear on the show.


The shop on the left is nearly all tourist items: t-shirts, glasses, hand rags, and more. The shop on the right was the “antique shop”, which was half tourist stuff and a few antiques for sale.

Let’s cut to the chase … this was a disappointment. Antique Archeology should really be renamed Modern American Picker Fan Tourist Store. To be fair, the store did have some great t-shirts, so that was a plus. But, the lack of actual antiques was very disappointing. It’s all glitz and no substance. There’s no lack of irony in a show about Pickers that have a store that provides hardly any items to pick through.

We ended Monday at Cedar Rapids. We needed to take care of some chores, like washing clothes, answering emails, plotting our next couple days,  cleaning up the jeep some, and updating ewillys.

Today we are heading north. Our stopping point remains to be determined. It’s just a long day of driving.


6 Comments on “Oh Deere, A Traveling Gothic

  1. Dave in Golden

    Dave– another fun stop near you is the John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum in Waterloo, Iowa ( less than 1 hour away ). It is a true museum that celebrates American agriculture and the history of John Deere Tractor manufacturing over the last 100 years ( and not just a marketing display ). It is also free as are the available tours of the tractor and engine factories. Have a fun trip.

  2. David Eilers Post author

    Thanks Dave. In fact, since we were driving right past there, we stopped at the museum to check it out. We didn’t see or hear any mention of the tours of the tractor and engine factories, but we didn’t have time for that on this trip anyway, but we’ll check into it when we get back in here.

  3. David Eilers Post author

    Mike … as you can imagine, I have no plans to quit my day job and go into comedy, lol.

  4. David Eilers Post author

    Seems to me I saw that ball of twine years ago … we didn’t have time on this trip.

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