The art of Blacksmithing still alive near Iowa

The art of Blacksmithing still alive near Iowa

A few centuries ago, blacksmiths were a common sight in towns and cities across the country.  Now you can only find a few of them and they're usually at workshops or public events.  I found one in the community of Buller, north of Iowa.

Once upon a time, men like E. J. McCann were on every street corner.

Back in the seventeen to eighteen-hundreds, when the United States was being founded, there was a blacksmith in every small town," said McCann.  "A lot of farmers had their own blacksmithing supplies and different things to sharpen their plows and to make utensils and things around the house. Very vital trade because everybody needed a blacksmith."

Now that he's retired from full-time preaching, this Baptist minister loves to teach others the art of black smithing.

"I can't paint a picture like some people, but I can manipulate metal in some ways that other people who fool with metal have never been able to accomplish, so it's self-satisfaction."

McCann says one of his most important tools is the anvil. In fact, he's got ten of them here in his shop.

"Older people that remember when great-grandfather had something on his farm and they cranked the blower on the forge. Some people are just interested in seeing someone take a raw material and then in a short period of time transform it into something that is very artistic or something that may even be very useful."

E. J. stays busy at demos across the south and teaching spring and fall Leisure Learning courses at McNeese State University.  For more information, call 337-475-5616 or go to