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Now Open!

Thank you to everyone who brought the Blacksmith Shop to life!


Building the shop:

~ Jeff Morgan and crew – building construction  

~ Anvil Masonry – Paul Thrift, Jr.

~ Robert Smith Masonry – Robert (Bobby) Smith) – forge masonry

~ Dave Bittle – Architect

~ Electrician – Huffer Electric: Suzanne Lewis & Kevin Neel

~ Excavator – Randy Lewis

~ Hartman Roofing- Andy Williamson

~ Sign Painting – Elizabeth McGee

~ Windows – Joel Anderson

~ Painting – Jeff Zepp    

~ Classic Elegance, LLC – John and Olya Bagger – bellows restoration

Blacksmiths contributing:

~ Steve Dill – hinges

~ Tanner Shorb – hinges

~ Greg Knolls – hinges

~ Jim Maness – hinges

~ Chris Cash – blacksmithing tools


The Blacksmith Shop was one of the busiest and most important places in Catoctin Furnace. The skill of the Blacksmith in making and repairing iron objects made him a necessary worker at Catoctin Furnace and nearly every other community in America during the 18th and 19th centuries. He shaped shoes for the horses and mules that were essential for the furnace operations. He made nails, hinges, hooks, wagon parts, tools and repaired all the iron fixtures of the furnace’s machinery. Little wonder why his work kept him busy 6 days a week and on call 24 hours to maintain the furnace’s operation.

The Catoctin Furnace Blacksmith Shop is a 20 x 14 heavy timber structure based on historic archival, photographic, and oral history evidence of working blacksmith shops in Catoctin Furnace and the surrounding countryside. The shop serves as a demonstration, education, and exhibit space. In 2019, the CFHS purchased a full complement of blacksmithing tools with the generous assistance of a Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area (HCWHA) grant. These tools are utilized within the blacksmith shop to demonstrate and teach blacksmithing.

The predominance of enslaved Africans and free African Americans at Catoctin between the time of the Revolution and the Civil War is strong evidence for African American blacksmithing in the village. The Catoctin Furnace working blacksmith shop will revive and literally “reconstruct” the history of blacksmiths and their important role in early Frederick County, Maryland, and the U.S. Our research team included staff from Colonial Williamsburg as well as local heavy timber construction experts. We completed extensive research of historic blacksmith shops such as the African American owned Moses Jones (1787-1868) blacksmith shop in Carroll County and the Felicity or Oakland Mills blacksmith shop in Howard County, which was a model for the Colonial Williamsburg blacksmith shop. This research informed the completed design: an early photograph of the Jones shop was utilized to design the roofline and doors. Detailed historical research has revealed that the majority of Catoctin Furnace and related industry workers during the late 18th/early 19th centuries were enslaved and free Africans and African Americans. Recent research has identified 16 African American blacksmiths in northern Frederick County in the 19th century. In early America, blacksmithing by European immigrants and African American enslaved and free persons was a highly regarded occupation. Despite their importance, their story remains largely untold.

Catoctin Furnace contains the story of African and European iron working traditions and skills that were brought across the Atlantic Ocean. In “Striking Iron” (2019) Tom Joyce states that African blacksmiths are inextricably connected to a long and substantial legacy…these skills and knowledge were brought to the new United States. The Catoctin Furnace blacksmith shop is a platform to honor the contribution of blacksmithing to our history, revive the practice of the craft, and educate visitors of all ages about the importance of African ironmaking technology transfer.

Catoctin Furnace Blacksmith Shop Opened on May 9, 2023

Elected officials in attendance:

~ Frederick County Executive, Jessica Fitzwater, Representative Ysela Bravo

~ Senator Chris Van Hollen – Representative Nan Mann

~ Delegate April Miller – Frederick County, District 4

Thank you to:

~ DNR, for the opportunity to use parkland for the shop – Josh Kurtz, Department of Natural Resources Secretary;  Angela Crenshaw, Acting Superintendent of the Maryland Park Service; Mark Spurrier, Manager of Cunningham Falls and Gambrill State Parks; Robert Bailey, Historic Planner and Charlie Mazurek, Manager of Historical and Cultural Resources.

Maryland Historical Trust – Elizabeth Hughes, SHPO

Rob Wanner and EAC/Archaeology crew – Archaeology


~ Rural Maryland Council, Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Fund (MAERDAF) Community and Economic Development FY 22 Grant – Charlotte Davis, Executive Director & Megan D’Arcy, Program Administrator

~ Americana Corner – Tom Hand

~ Catoctin Furnace Historical Society, Inc.

~ HCWHA mini grant – blacksmithing tools – Liz Shatto

Examples of forges we looked at:

~ Howard County – Oakland Mills & Jones Blacksmith shop on McKinstry Mill Road

~ Union Mills Homestead – Reb Staup

~ Carroll County Farm Museum – Jim Maness

~ Colonial Williamsburg – Kenneth Schwarz & Mark Sperry