• Image of the reconstructed stockade at Fort Vancouver and Pearson Air Museum looking northeast from the Land Bridge.

    Fort Vancouver

    National Historic Site OR,WA

Blacksmith Shop

Fort Vancouver's Blacksmith Shop on a frosty winter morning

The Blacksmith Shop at Fort Vancouver on a frosty winter morning.

NPS Photo

In an age when virtually everything needed by man can be had, ready-made from store or factory, it is somewhat difficult to imagine the need for and reliance on the blacksmith by communities of 150 to 200 hundred years ago.

To our ancestors the blacksmith combined the work of the welding shop, the service station, and the hardware store in one man. Every community had need of a good blacksmith and Fort Vancouver was no exception, employing at least four at any one time.

 
Volunteers help during an annual cleanup day

Volunteers are the backbone of the Blacksmith Shop operation, providing daily demonstrations and special programs.

NPS Photo

To assess the full worth and standing of the blacksmith in early communities one has only to examine the character of the items he made, and the way in which he met the problems connected with each.

Virtually every article for home or farm that could not be formed of wood was the province of the blacksmith.

Look around your own home today and try to imagine the blacksmith making all the iron or steel items, both mechanical and non-mechanical that you see.

To say that the smith was an important member of the community would be an understatement. He was a necessity, whether in the city or in a small village on the far western frontier.

Today you can observe the important work of the historic blacksmith by visiting the ongoing demonstrations in the blacksmith shop where you can observe staff and volunteers manufacturing historic accurate tools and hardware from iron.

Dig deeper...

  • To learn about the latest happenings in the Blacksmith Shop, read Forge & Plane, the newsletter of the Fort Vancouver Trades Guild, by clicking here.
  • To view some of the site's historical studies click here.

Did You Know?

An HBC beaver trap from the collection at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

As the fur trade-era depot and headquarters for the Hudson's Bay Company's Columbia Department, did you know that over 61,000 animal pelts were shipped from Fort Vancouver to England in 1843 alone? This and many other stories are interpreted at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. More...