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Challenges, Choices, and Change:
Challenges, Choices, and Change: Farming in the Great Corn Belt

Farming was the reason the first settlers who came to McLean County in the early 1800s chose to do so. They arrived after thousands of years of farming by Native people.

Like these early residents, McLean County farmers faced constant change and numerous challenges. The availability and cost of land, the arrival of the railroad, new science and technology, as well as economic and natural forces had a dramatic impact on their successes and failures. With determination, resourcefulness, and innovation McLean County farmers met these challenges.

As time passed, how they produced agricultural commodities, what they produced, and where and how those commodities reached regional and world markets changed dramatically.

Exhibit Sections


Co-Curated by

Don Meyer
Susan K. Hartzold

Digital Curation by

Torii Moré

Designed by

Susan K. Hartzold

Assistance Provided by

  • Anthony Bowman
  • Gina Hunter
  • Milan Jackson
  • Hannah Johnson
  • Bill Kemp
  • Greg Koos
  • Lauren Lacy
  • Tom Lawrence
  • Mike Matejka
  • Emma Meyer
  • George Perkins
  • Dee Perry
  • Candace Summers
  • Daryl Watson
  • Beth Whisman
  • Jeff Woodard
  • Mark Wyman
  • Bill Zimmerman
  • Kate E. Kettelkamp
  • Gary Iverson

Special Thanks to

  • Ace WorldWide
  • Moving & Storage
  • Altorfer Ag Products
  • Automated Ag Systems
  • Birkey’s Farm Store
  • Funk Prairie Home Museum
  • Illinois Agriculture Association
  • The Library of Congress
  • McLean County Farm Bureau
  • Motion Industries
  • National Air and Space Museum
  • The Pantagraph
  • 4B Components
  • GSI
  • Bart Bittner and Family
  • Bill Butler
  • Ann Charback
  • Steve Fast
  • Robert Hartzold
  • Jerry Meiss