Matthew Edel Blacksmith Shop

Haverhill, Iowa

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Matthew Edel Blacksmith Shop. Haverhill, IA.

UPDATED September 16th, 2019.

Corbeled smoke entrance to brick chimney.Previous update way back on September 25th, 2000.

The original forge still stands and is built of wood with a cinder bed hearth and a brick chimney. A testament to those who would scoff at the use of wood to build a forge. The cinder bed provides the necessary insulation to hold the heat of the fire while the brick chimney near to the fire directs smoke from the shop. Air blast was provided by bellows still visible  near the ceiling in one corner of the shop. A "T" pipe connection with valve was later added along with a centrifugal blower connected to the shop's lineshaft, to provide blast to the fire when the engine was running. When the engine was not in use, a simple turn of the air valve and the forge could be fed by the bellows.

Photo at right. The wooden beam sides of the forge were let in, or cut away , to allow the smith to place long bars through the fire even when they extended all the way across the forge. This forge was built next to the wall of the building and a small hole, with a door to shut out the weather, was cut into the wall of the building so longer bars could be thrust through it to be heated in the fire. Tools racks line the front of the forge to hold the smith's punches and hammers.


A wooden hearth with a cinder bed supports the fire.

Photo at left. The hearth is made of wood planks and beams. the hearth is basically built around the brick chimney. In this view the cutout which allows placement of longer bars into the fire is clearly visible. Tool racks are visible in the front of the hearth and just barely visible in this photo is the small stool and bracket that the blacksmith added to the left side of the forge so he could sit nearby and rest between heats. The air blast delivery pipe is visible to the right of the photo under the hearth bed. Although I didn't get to see if for sure if this forge had a firepot, it appeared that it didn't have one.





Chimney opening is roughly 9 inches wide.Corbeling of chimney extends slightly over firePhoto at left. Smoke entrance at bottom of the chimney is roughly 10 inches wide and roughly 2 feet tall. The Chimney is corbelled to give a slightly hooded effect to help guide smoke into the entrance of the chimney.

Photo at right. Corbelling of chimney above the fire is clearly visible, and extends out over the fire almost the length of one brick. The poor developing job on the photos prevents them from scanning well for this page so the tape measure cannot be read. The corbelling ends 3 feet above the bottom of the smoke entrance or about 1 foot above the top of the smoke entrance. The smoke entrance is 2 feet tall and about 9-10 inches wide. the Chimney flue is about 9-10 inches wide. Back of the chimney smoke entrance is straight as opposed to some side draft chimney smoke entrances which are often inclined rearwards into the back of the chimney.



The shop looks the same as it did the day it closed in 1940

Photo at left. The bellows is just barely visible in this photo at the top left corner behind the chimney. The home made power hammer made from a railcar wheel and axle is visible behind the forge and the line shafts located overhead mounted to the wall.

A 7 horse power one lung engine located in a backroom, provided power to the lineshaft to run the home made power hammer and woodworking equipment and the centrifugal blower for the forge.

The shop had a dirt floor except for the wooden entranceway.




Haverhill forge viewed from wood working area of the shop.A rural smithy located in Haverhill Iowa. Blacksmith Matthew Edel moved to this small railroad town in 1883 and opened a shop in the first floor of a house given to him by the railroad. Quite literally a time capsule left unopened since the blacksmith passed away in the early 1940's, even the tools were left in the places seen in old photographs when this smithy was reopened by the Iowa State Historical Society in the early 1980's.

The blacksmith fulfilled all of the usual duties of a rural smith, making and repairing agricultural tools and implements and shoeing horses. He also invented tools and held several patents.

Matthew Edel Blacksmith Shop. First St. and Third Ave., Haverhill, Iowa, Phone 515-752-6664, Alternate Phone 515-475-3299. Description: Visit a 19th century blacksmith shop operated until 1940 by German immigrant Matthew Edel. Shop remains as he left it in 1940. Admission is free. Hours:Noon-4 daily, Memorial Day weekend-Labor Day weekend.


Page updated 16 September 2019.

Readers who have knowledge or documentation on this shop are invited to mail the author at the email address below.

The author can be emailed at address in picture below:


Last update September 25th, 2000