When we agreed to come to Fort Necessity, the Chief of Interpretation let us know that he was very interested in Tom being a blacksmith here. Mount Washington Tavern, as part of their full-service reputation, would have had a full-time blacksmith here. After all, if you are driving a wagon or stagecoach over a rough road up and down mountains, you might have a part break or fall off. And a blacksmith is the person you would need to fix it. A blacksmith can make just about any part you need.
Tom readily agreed to be a blacksmith at Mount Washington Tavern. The first thing he needed to do was gather the things he would need, which included making a bellows. He made a bellows at Fort Frederica, so he knew how to do it. We had canvas left over from the Fort Frederica bellows, so I sewed together a piece big enough to use. Tom scavenged the wood from the maintenance shop and then we put all the pieces together. It took a little while to make the bellows. Every time we would start to work we would get a thunderstorm! Finally he had all the pieces together for a working bellows.
After the bellows was transported to Mount Washington Tavern, he still had to put together a forge. Fortunately there are lots of fire bricks here, and Tom found a heavy, metal plate that was the right size for the fire pan. He built a platform of fire bricks, put the metal plate on top, and then set up the bellows. The end result doesn’t look quite as finished as a professional forge, but it was cheap and can be taken down when not in use.
Once he had all the parts together, he was ready to blacksmith, but there was another problem: scheduling. Tom spends most of his time as a soldier out in the Great Meadows by Fort Necessity. He likes doing this and enjoys the interaction with people and getting his picture taken. He likes doing it more than most of the rangers like it. So our boss continued to schedule him out in the field. For the last month he has been scheduled to be a blacksmith at Mount Washington Tavern one day a week. But if someone is sick or one of the rangers has other work to do, being in the meadow is a higher priority. Consequently he has only been a blacksmith three days all summer.
But he enjoys his days being a blacksmith. It gives him a break from being a soldier and he gets to make some stuff. His specialty is hooks – which he makes while people are watching and then gives away. But he has also repaired a bayonet, fixed a pike, and will make period tent stakes the next chance he gets. Our guests enjoy watching him work and learning about how important a blacksmith was to life in the 18th and 19th centuries.