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Blacksmithing in Cades Cove

Back in the days before the automobile, I bet you think blacksmiths were only needed to shoe horses or mules. Believe it or not, smithies were one of the two most valuable people a community could have; blacksmiths were right up there on the list next to doctor. Cades Cove was no exception in its need for a blacksmith in its little farming community. Yes, blacksmiths were needed much more than for just shoeing horses.

So, just what was important about them? Why were they so valued and sought after?

Well, they made all sorts of metal products for the home and farm. (There was no Wal-Mart to run to for things, ya know!) Sweating amongst the heat and dust, working next to a hot as blazes fire even on sun-soaked days, beating their heavy hammers over and over to shape a variety of metals, they forged every utensil and tool known and needed by man: axes, hammers, hoes, chains and hooks, knives of every kind and size, wheel rims and spokes for wagons, nails, bolts, plows, as well as repaired anything of metal that broke. And a good blacksmith didn’t just do big heavy items, they could also fashion things as delicate as a graceful candlestick.

Oh yeah, and they made horseshoes and outfitted the horses and mules.

Want to learn firsthand why blacksmiths were so valuable to a community such as Cades Cove? You can by visiting the Blacksmith Building just past the Cades Cove Visitors Center in the Cable Mill area October 21 & 22 any time between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. This free, wheelchair accessible program will introduce you to the art and trade of blacksmithing.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park Service hosts events throughout the year that will leave you in awe of the beauty, people and traditions of Appalachia. Bookmark their calendar of events here!

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