DES MOINES – If you ever wanted to bang hot metal against an anvil to make horseshoes, just like blacksmiths did in the old days, May 20 is your lucky day.
Two professional blacksmiths from the Upper Midwest Blacksmith Association will fire up six coal forges and teach visitors how to make various objects during "Learn to Blacksmith Day" 10:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m.Saturday, May 20, at the Matthew Edel Blacksmith Shop in Haverhill, between Bondurant and Marshalltown.
The open-house event is free to the public and is presented as part of UMBA's annual spring conference. UMBA will have all the necessary tools and materials and recommends participants wear closed-toe shoes or boots, loose-fitting leather gloves, and cotton or wool clothing. (Sparks or pieces of slag will burn holes in synthetic materials.) No previous experience is necessary, and the shop will be open for tours.
A German immigrant, Matthew Edel owned his blacksmith shop from 1883 until his death in 1940. His family donated the shop and its contents in 1986 to the State Historical Society of Iowa, which documented 4,486 artifacts and left them exactly as Edel did 77 years ago.
Over the past 30 years, visitors have enjoyed seeing the shop and the rare collection of blacksmith gear he used to build and repair wagons, horseshoes and beautiful iron crosses that mark graves in a cemetery nearby.
During the event, you can get your picture taken in the same spot where Edel posed for a historic photograph, and meet one of his great-granddaughters, Solon resident Pat Ikan, who helps promote the preservation of the shop and its artifacts.
Last fall, her cousin Steve Schrader of San Francisco challenged family and friends to match his $10,000 contribution, and they raised an additional $9,145. Donations can be made online at iowaculture.gov/support or by mailing a check to the Iowa Historical Foundation, 600 E. Locust St., Des Moines, Iowa 50319 with a notation that funds be directed to the Matthew Edel Blacksmith Shop.
The Matthew Edel Blacksmith Shop is one of eight historic sites overseen by the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. It is open daily 12:00-4:00 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day with free admission. Group tours are welcome and should be scheduled in advance with Historical Society of Marshall County at (641) 752-6664.
The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa - State Office of Media Production and the State Historical Society of Iowa – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowa to be recognized as a state that fosters creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations.