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Pioneer Life: The Blacksmith

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blacksmith.1.jpgOne of the most important men to arrive in a pioneer community was the blacksmith. The term "blacksmith" is derived from the words "black", meaning black metal, and "smite", meaning to strike hard. The blacksmith performed a number of services vital to the community, the primary one being to keep horses' hooves in good condition.

Horses were essential for both work and transportation. They needed to be shod on a regular basis. A horse with sore feet could not work. Good horseshoes, when properly fitted, contributed to the working life of the horse.

The blacksmith had a forge where, with the aid of a bellows, he kept his fire hot. He also had an anvil, which was a solid iron bar on which he could hammer horseshoes fresh from the fire. Once the shoe was the right shape for the horse's hoof, it was put into a bucket of cold water to temper the metal and cool it off. The shoe was then nailed to the horse's hoof.

The blacksmith manufactured all kinds of metal items for use in settlers' homes, everything from nails, to hinges, to axe heads.