Blacksmith Shop

A low barn-like wood building is painted brown and has a facade with white trim and a large metal horseshoe.

Herbert Hoover's father Jesse owned a blacksmith shop similar to this one

NPS Photo by John Tobiason

 

My recollection of my father is of necessity dim indeed, but I retain one vivid memento from this time. 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.

Herbert Hoover

 

Jesse Hoover owned and operated a blacksmith shop from 1871 to 1878. Although there were other smithies in town, Jesse earned a reputation as a good-natured, fair, and industrious businessman. Skilled and ambitious, he advertised to farmers, "Horse shoeing and plow work a specialty. Also dealer in all kinds of pumps. Prices to suit the times."

 
An 1877 newspaper advertisement for a blacksmith and repair shop boasts that horseshoes and plow work are his specialty.

Advertisement in West Branch newspaper for Jesse Hoover's blacksmith shop, 1877

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum

 

Reconstructed Shop

Built in 1957, this building represents the kind of blacksmith and wagon shops that were common in the 1870s. It is based on the sketches of Herbert's older brother Theodore, from his recollections of what their father's shop looked like. The re-built blacksmith shop sits west of the original shop's location just a stone's throw from the Birthplace Cottage.

 
 

Horseshoes And Wagon Wheels

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.

A Career Cut Short

Success allowed Jesse to buy a larger farm implement store on Main Street in 1878. Here he sold pumps, wagons, barbed wire, and sewing machines. He operated that shop until his death in December 1880. Though he died at age 34, in his short life he had provided an excellent example of what hard work and integrity could achieve.

 
Flames glow brightly in a brick forge as a blacksmith heats a piece of steel.

A blacksmith demonstrates heating metal at the forge

NPS Photo by John Eicher

 

Blacksmith Demonstrations

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.

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