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[graphic header] The Amana Colonies: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary of a unique historic communal society in eastern Iowa

[graphic] Blacksmith Shop
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Front entrance to Blacksmith Shop
Photograph by Shannon Bell

The Amana villages were situated in a soil rich area of Iowa and the farmers cultivating it required the services of a full service blacksmith and repair shop. Each Amana village had one blacksmith shop. The self-sufficient Amana villages had a number of craft and trade shops which employed Society members. These buildings were usually arranged in convenient groupings. Wagon shops, harness shops, and blacksmith shops, for example, were usually built together near the agricultural buildings, while shops such as bakeries and tailor shops which provided general community services and goods were more centrally located. Some mixed uses occurred when small shops were either incorporated into a residential building or attached to it. The Inspirationists drew many of their members from this group of small craftsmen and tradesmen, who brought their skills with them to America, where they thrived for a time in the rural Amana Colonies. Blacksmithing was an example of such a trade.

A blacksmith's shop was complete with bellows, anvil, tongs, clippers, cutters, hammers, and a horseshoeing area. Wheel assembly jigs, tire benders, oiling troughs and measuring wheels would be found in the portion of the shop specializing in wagon repair. In the Amana Colonies, wagon shops were often separate from blacksmith shops. For agrarian societies wagons were a necessity; in 1889, an inventory list shows that the Amana Society owned 172 wagons and buggies. Welding and machine works gradually replaced wagon making and repairing in many Iowa blacksmith shops after World War II. Electric welders, gas forges, metal cutting bandsaws, grinders and lathes entered many blacksmith shops in the 20th century. The Homestead Blacksmith Shop stands as an expression of an era when agricultural small town industry and commerce centered on the blacksmith's services.

Blacksmith Shop, 4117 V Street, Homestead. The blacksmith shop is privately owned and is not open to the public.


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