Valley & Ridge

Updated 10/12/10

In Podcast #30 Alfonso & David visit McCormick’s Farm in Rockbridge County, Virginia.  Cyrus McCormick was the inventor of the mechanical reaper which improved farming all over the world. The reaper could harvest a bushel of wheat in 10 minutes instead of the 3 hours that it usually took a farmer to do it by hand! In 1851 the Academy of Sciences stated that he had done “more for agriculture than any other living man!” Explore the farm where Cyrus McCormick lived and made his famous invention; learn how the water-powered grist mill turned grain into flour, see a life-size replica of the reaper and find out how it worked! Come on!  Let’s go trekkin’!

Cyrus McCormick’s factory burned down in the Chicago Fire of 1871.  He moved his factory from Virginia to Chicago, Illinois in 1847 to be closer to the vast wheat fields of the Midwest. By 1861 he was selling over 4,000 reapers a year and Chicago was shipping 50 million bushels of grain annually, making it one of the largest grain ports in the world! (Source)   After it burned down in the Chicago Fire he rebuilt it.  Later, McCormick’s factory was the site of the tragic Haymarket Riot in 1886 where a labor strike ended in many deaths.  It was one of the reasons why we have Labor Day in September instead of May like the rest of the world. (Source)  You’ve also been learning about the Scotch-Irish who settled in the Valley and Ridge region.  McCormick’s ancestors were Scotch-Irish! (Source)  So he’s a great example of the contributions of different people groups that we talked about in Podcast #29

SOL Correlation:

VS.4 The student will demonstrate knowledge of life in the Virginia colony by

  1. a)explaining the importance of agriculture and its influence on the institution of slavery;

  2. b)describing how European (English, Scotch-Irish, German) immigrants, Africans, and American Indians (First Americans) influenced the cultural landscape and changed the relationship between the Virginia colony and England;


VS.8c The student will demonstrate knowledge of the reconstruction of Virginia following the Civil War by c) describing the importance of railroads, new industries, and the growth of cities to Virginia’s economic development


VS.2b The student will demonstrate knowledge of the geography and early inhabitants of Virginia by b) locating and describing Virginia’s Coastal Plain (Tidewater), Piedmont, Blue Ridge Mountains, Valley and Ridge, and Appalachian Plateau;


2.3 The student will identify and compare changes in community life over time in terms of buildings, jobs, transportation, and population.


2.7 The student will describe the differences between natural resources (water, soil, wood, and coal), human resources (people at work), and capital resources (machines, tools, and buildings).


3.2a The student will investigate and understand simple machines and their uses.  Key concepts include a) types of simple machines (lever, screw, pulley, wheel and axle, inclined plane, and wedge);


3.7 The student will explain how producers use natural resources (water, soil, wood, and coal), human resources (people at work), and capital resources (machines, tools, and buildings) to produce goods and services for consumers.


3.11b The student will investigate and understand different sources of energy. Key concepts include b) sources of energy (sunlight, water, wind);


4.8a The student will investigate and understand important Virginia natural resources.  Key concepts include a) watershed and water resources;

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