Secrets of the Blue Ridge: When Shoes and Tires Were Made from Iron

By Phil James

For earlier generations, everyday life depended mightily on the talents of those who plied the blacksmith trade. In the age which preceded and overlapped with the advent of the gasoline engine, it was the blacksmith and wheelwright who forged, tempered and sharpened the everyday hand tools, shod the hooves of the working beasts, and built the wagons and conveyances that served the populations.

Antique maps and local road signage give a nod to some of those early tradesmen: Bishop’s Shop, Bowen’s Shop, Critzer’s Shop, Davis Shop, Link Evans Lane, Nicksville, Rogers Shop.

Some blacksmiths were born into the business and learned their way around the shop at a very young age. In western Albemarle County, the 1880 census enumerated William Day, age 48, as a blacksmith, and his 12-year-old son William as a “striker” in the shop. Twenty-three year old William Woodson was already sharing full responsibilities with his father Benjamin in the elder’s establishment.

Shelley Fralic: In praise of small-town traditions

  1. And if you've ever wondered why antique shops and car boot sales have quite so many china spaniels, Cryer has the answer. Queen Victoria adored spaniels, particularly her own Cavalier King Charles, which she named Dash. Wanting to curry royal favour 
  2. The event is part of the annual Hyack Festival, another lovely New Westminster tradition that features the Hyack Parade, Antique Fair, Uptown Street Fest, the Ancient and Honourable Hyack Anvil Battery and the Heritage Homes Tour & Tea. And of course 
  3. Anvil Gallery: “Nourish” photo exhibit by Holly Shelowitz, through May, 45 N. Front St., Kingston. Hours: 9:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri. . Also: Collection of antique motorcycles, including Indians for every year from 1902-1953. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m

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