Adventure Us: Cyrus McCormick Farm
Adventure #5: Cyrus McCormick Farm (Raphine)
Heading north along the beautiful Blue Ridge for an hour or so brings you to a scenic and historic landmark: the McCormick Farm, located just off I-81 near Raphine, Virginia. Still farmland today, this is the land which nearly 200 years ago belonged to Cyrus McCormick, entrepreneur, inventor, and one of the fathers of modern agriculture. Eight original buildings from the early 1800s still stand on the 620 acre property, including a grist mill, workshop, and farmhouse. Born on this farm, Cyrus McCormick designed and built his original mechanical reaper here in 1831 at only twenty-two years of age, and successfully demonstrated it on farmland nearby. In the years and decades that followed, he (in partnership with his brothers) continued to refine and improve his design. Initially each of his reapers was built by hand in the workshop still standing next to the grist mill. Eventually, as business boomed, McCormick’s reapers went into mass production, and McCormick formed what would become the International Harvester company. McCormick’s breakthroughs increased farmers’ productivity twentyfold in a few short years, and sparked an agricultural revolution worldwide.
The mill and workshop house a small free museum brimming with historical artifacts, including miniature models of McCormick reapers. Due to Covid concerns, the buildings are currently closed; however, the property is still an excellent place to visit. The neatly kept grounds are a perfect picnic area, and the well-preserved building exteriors, mill wheel, creek, and pond are fascinating to explore. Just across the road, the half-mile Marl Creek Interpretive Trail winds along the creek to the original mill pond and features many informative signposts about nature and agriculture. The peace and beauty of the farmland framed by the Blue Ridge mountains makes this a restful place to enjoy nature and history.
The property has been designated as a National Historic Landmark as well as a state landmark. After remaining in the McCormick family for well over 100 years, the farm was donated to Virginia Tech, which continues to operate it as an agricultural research facility as well as maintain the grounds.
Name: 128 McCormick Farm Circle, Raphine, VA 24472
Time from Roanoke: 1 – 1.25 hr
Activity Options: Trails, Pond, Picnic Area, Museum (museum currently closed)
Nearby Food: Edelweiss German Restaurant, fast food
Nearby Attractions: Frontier Culture Museum (Staunton), Natural Bridge, Virginia Safari Park