• Pink flowers blossom in the garden of a white two-room cottage.

    Herbert Hoover

    National Historic Site Iowa

Blacksmith Shop

Jesse Hoover owned and operated a blacksmith shop in West Branch from 1871 to 1878.

 
A blacksmith chats with a visitor inside a blacksmith shop.
The Blacksmith Shop is a working shop with a part-time blacksmith. Check the schedule of events for dates and times of blacksmith demonstrations. Items made by the blacksmith during his demonstrations are on sale at the bookstore.
Linda Staats
 
Cans of grease and shovels furnish the walls and shelves of an old-fashioned blacksmith shop.

Cans of grease and shovels are among the many artifacts furnishing the Blacksmith Shop.

Linda Staats

This reconstructed shop, built in 1957, is based on the sketches of Herbert’s older brother Tad, from his recollections of what their father’s shop looked like. Lumber salvaged from a nearby barn, which had stood since the 1870s, was used in its construction. Located near its original location, the re-built blacksmith shop still sits just a stone’s throw from the Birthplace Cottage.

 
A blacksmith discusses his trade with four young boys.

Children visit the blacksmith during a demonstration of Jesse Hoover's trade.

Linda Staats

The excitement of banging iron, sparking fires, and new visitors, often brought Tad and his younger brother “Bertie” across old Penn Street to investigate their father’s business. One time in particular, according to Hoover’s memoirs, left a “lasting impression” on the young Herbert:

“Playing barefoot around the blacksmith shop, I stepped on a chip of hot iron and carry the brand of Iowa on my foot to this day.”

 
A brown wooden building with white trim and wide double doors.

The Blacksmith Shop had large double doors to accommodate horses and wagons.

Linda Staats

Although there were other smithies in town, Jesse’s friendliness, honesty, and strong work ethic helped his business to grow. His wry sense of humor came across in the ads he ran in the local newspaper, which read: “Horse shoeing and plow work a specialty. Prices to suit the times. J. C. Hoover.”

The large double doors made it easy to maneuver horses around for shoeing or to bring in large wagon wheels or plows for repair. Inside the main building you’ll find a working forge, along with an anvil, and a rack filled with period tools of the trade. Look around and see how many different size horseshoes or wagon rims you can find.

During select times of the year, park visitors can watch a blacksmith demonstrate the skill and hard work needed to turn ordinary iron into useful things. Items made during these demonstrations are for sale at the bookstore in the Visitor Center.

 

What impact did Herbert Hoover have as Secretary of Commerce on national and international business practices? Find out »

 

 

Take a Virtual Tour

This is a stop on the virtual tour of Herbert Hoover National Historic Site.

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Did You Know?

Hoover's birthplace as it appeared before restoration: a two-story white frame house.

Herbert Hoover's birthplace was a tourist attraction as early as 1928. Jennie Scellers, the house's owner, charged 10 cents for tours and set up a souvenir stand on her lawn. More...