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.

Parades, contests and fun set for area holiday celebrations

  1. He also had an anvil he used to shape metal with a hammer. Inside the museum, hand crafter Saga Erickson showed how to make brooms the old fashioned way. Erickson said she's made brooms for eight years and that she's one of a few broom squires left.
  2. A crowd gathers around as blacksmith Randy Dack talks about the history of firing anvils and blacksmiths in America during the 2014 Fourth of July celebration at Stuhr Museum in Grand Island. The anvil was shot into the air shortly after. Black powder
  3. One man's trash is another man's treasure, so goes the saying. For some entrepreneurs, this has become the new business mantra. From discarded bottles and worn-out tyres to old newspapers and ragged shoes, young professionals are recycling waste as a 

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