Sunday, July 1, 2012

Webb Brothers Blacksmith & Wainwright Shop

Wainwrights were wagon builders, wheelwrights constructed the wheels, and blacksmiths (among other things) provided the iron parts for the wheels.  When the Saints prepared to move west, everyone in the city was engaged in a massive wagon building effort. 

There were forty-eight blacksmiths in Nauvoo.  This shop was  reconstructed on its original foundation.

Oh look, Elder Knudsen is going to work.

Outside there is a wagon like the ones they constructed.

Up close you can read the sign:

First, you go into the wainwright shop.  They show you a loaded wagon.

Then they show you how they built the wheels.

Each family was given a spoke and a felloes and was responsible for cutting out 26 felloes and 52 spokes for their wagon.  The wheel behind Elder K. on the left is a completed wheel.

When they got it all together, the blacksmith put an iron rim on to hold it all together and then they soaked it in linseed oil and turpentine, turning slowly for two hours.  That was usually the young boys' job. 

While they explain how to build the wheel, the Elders talk about how the wheel is like a family.  The hub is like the mother, the spokes are like the children, the wooden rim (felloes) is like the father, and the iron tire that holds it all together is like the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Then they go into the blacksmith shop.  The blacksmith made all the metal items in the house such as doorknobs, hinges, latches, chains, etc. as well as items for farm use such as horseshoes and oxen shoes.

They explain how shoeing a horse is different than shoeing an oxen.  An ox will not pick up his foot like a horse will, so they have to put him in a contraption like this with a strap under its belly to lift it up.

They also make a tiny little baby horseshoe while they're talking.

First they get a piece of iron rod really really hot - RED hot. ( I might add here that the day we took these pictures it was 101 - 102 degrees outside  with a heat index of 117.  He just happens to be standing by an 800 degree forge.  As you can see from his shirt, he was working very hard. )

When he's all finished, he gives the horseshoe to someone in the tour.

The quarter helps you see how tiny it is.  Isn't it cute?

He also tells a story of a young man who wanted to marry his sweetheart but her father didn't think he had enough money to take care of her so he told the boy he couldn't marry her until he could give her a diamond ring.  The boy was quite creative and took a horseshoe nail to the blacksmith and had him bend it into a ring.  The horseshoe was made by the Diamond Horseshoe Company.  He got the girl and everyone who comes to the blacksmith shop gets a Prairie Diamond Ring.

From the blacksmith's window, the wagons could be seen lined up for two miles on Parley Street, waiting for their turn to cross the Mississippi River that cold February 1846.  What amazing people. 

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