The Boalsburg Country Store
The One Room School
The Boalsburg Blacksmith Shop is located at the SE corner of the old Carriage Works building (the building that now houses the Harris Township offices at 224 E. Main St.). It is a fine example of a 19thcentury Pennsylvania blacksmith shop, complete with original tools, Swedish anvil, working forge & bellows wheel. It was in continuous operation for over a century. The first blacksmiths in the Boalsburg shop made the wheels and iron parts for the wagons, buggies & coaches that were made in the Carriage Works, which began operation around 1846. In the 1850s the Carriage works employed two coachmakers, an apprentice coachmaker, and a blacksmith. By the 1860 census, there are eight employees listed, including a blacksmith’s apprentice. The last blacksmith, Al Gingrich, began as a blacksmith’s apprentice in 1895 at the age of 14. When he was 25, Al became co-owner of the Carriage Works, and in 1924 he became the sole owner. As coaches gave way to automobiles, Al began to convert the carriage works into a woodworking shop for his furniture making business, but he still worked the forge, making hand-made hinges and latches for his furniture, as well as doing automobile repair work. When Al retired in the mid-1950’s he closed the doors of his shop, leaving everything much the same as it had been on his first day of work in 1895.
Today the Blacksmith shop is open for tour groups upon request, and on Memorial Day when local area school students have the opportunity to try their hand at being a blacksmith’s apprentice, alongside professional blacksmiths John Wood and Eric Johnson. During the live blacksmithing demonstrations on Memorial Day, the apprentices make items (hearth cooking utensils, door latches, etc.) that become part of the permanent collection at the Boalsburg Heritage Museum. To arrange a tour of the shop, and learn about upcoming hands-on blacksmithing workshops, such as being a blacksmith’s apprentice on Memorial Day, or joining the Friends of the Blacksmith Shop Committee, contact Paula Ralph, firstname.lastname@example.org.