Forging Ahead

Hello and welcome to the blog.  Thursday morning was spent at Edinburgh Pioneer Village, just a few miles north of home and a mile south of Jenny’s birthplace.  Located near Amber, Iowa, Edinburgh is a tiny little 1800’s style replica of a town with a church, school, horse hospital and blacksmith.

Paul, the blacksmith featured above, is a regular customer where I work.  We got to talking about the pioneer village and he invited me out to see a demonstration while a school group was touring.  I got to take a steel rod, heat it in the forge, and pound out a nail.  Fun stuff!

CLICK HERE for a 20 second video of the forging process.

The forge uses coal to generate heat.  The fan is operated by hand to force a column of air up from the bottom to intensify the fire and get the metal red hot.  Should the fire spread a bit too far, a cup of water helps knock the flames down.  I was amazed at how controlled the whole process is!  The hammer used to pound the steel weighs about 3 pounds and is grasped toward the center of the handle to reduce the shock to the blacksmith’s elbow.


Paul also invited me to visit his blacksmith shop where he lives.  The friendly blacksmith makes various items for sale including tripods for holding a Dutch oven.  I think that would be a cool addition for camping.  You’ll see more of Paul in a future post.


One other thing to mention…  Across this street from the Pioneer Village is the old Edinburgh Manor building.  It has been numerous things including a “poor farm” from 1850 to 1910 and was described as a “comfortable retreat for the lazy, able-bodied and willingly dependent applicants.”  Tenants farmed and raised livestock and were given shelter.  It was torn down and in 1910-1911, the new building (which you see) was constructed to house the incurably insane, the poor, and the elderly.

The facility was closed in 2010.  Starting in 2012 there have been tours of the facility and it is considered on of the most haunted locations in Iowa.  Paranormal enthusiasts flock here… all in quiet little Jones County, Iowa.

That’s about all for now.  At some point there will be more info about the Edinburgh Pioneer Village… but I’ll leave the old insane asylum alone…  I’m not into that ghost and paranormal stuff!  I put my faith in the Lord.

A beautiful hand-made cross fashioned by friend Paul. The metal was heat treated for added luster.

Take care and thanks for visiting!  Happy Labor Day this weekend!  Safe and happy travels!

Brad and Jenny
Jones County, Iowa

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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

4 Responses to Forging Ahead

  1. Jo says:

    Love the cross what a great gift. Can’t wait to see the next post about the little village. Hope you had a wonderful weekend

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo! I hope you are well! It’s been a good weekend. Last night I was visiting buddy Johnnie. Someone threw a bag of some kind of sh*t (yep, feces) near the roof vent of the van while I was street camping. Oh joy! Talk to you again soon!

  2. my_vantasy says:

    What a fun trip! Sometimes we watch “Forged in Fire” on the History Channel, so we think the process is interesting, too. The cross is beautiful. I am a woman of strong faith, so I appreciate your declaration of Christianity. Sometimes as Christians we keep our beliefs to ourselves, but we should let everyone know who has our heart.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thank you for the note! Faith is so important because with what is going on in the world few people know what peace is. I am not at all afraid of North Korea, Russia, etc. All will work for Christians. During the interim things might get a little crazy. I’m trying to wear the cross as a reminder to walk the walk. It’s too easy to cuss and be preoccupied with the problems of the world. Take care! — VT