Dewayne Curry spends most of his summer days as a 19th-century blacksmith working in the heat of a 2,000-degree fire. He took up the craft of blacksmithing just a few years ago, and now he shares his skills and his love of history with visitors exploring the site’s historic villages.
We caught up with Dewayne during Meadowcroft’s off-season to find out more about what it’s like being a 19th-century blacksmith.
What is your role at Meadowcroft?
My primary role is the village blacksmith. Sometimes you will find me manning a different exhibit, but it is tough to drag me out of the shop. I love it there. Did I mention how I had visited Meadowcroft with my family before I started working there? Well, the blacksmith shop was by far my favorite part. It fills me with joy that I get to work there. I also get to help build and maintain the other exhibits. We spent a large part of last year building a log cabin by hand. Where else do you get to do stuff like that?
What do you enjoy most about it?
What’s not to love? I get to make useful things out of red-hot metal all day long while sharing my love of history with thousands of people. Also, I am a natural performer. I love an audience!
What kind of research goes into preparing for this role?
I watch a lot of how-to blacksmith videos, especially when I’m trying to master a new skill. I also read anything I can find on the history of metal working and historical tools. My family laughs at me whenever we go places with old iron work because I spend all my time engrossed in figuring out how it was made.
What’s one of the most interesting things you’ve learned during your time at Meadowcroft?
How things fit together. Buildings, tools, crafts, everyday items. So much work goes into all these things when you have to make them by hand. You really get a different perspective on history when you try to re-create it. Every time I swing an axe, I gain a greater appreciation of how hard our ancestors had to work.
Why do you think it’s valuable for people to visit sites like Meadowcroft?
Perspective. If you go through life looking at things only from the way you already see them, how can you hope to understand people that live (or lived) differently than you do? Places like Meadowcroft let you experience the things we take for granted in a whole new way. You can connect with those that have gone before through the things that you both interact with every day.
Meadowcroft will open for the season in May 2019. Until then, learn more about the people who share history at Meadowcroft in our most recent Q&As:
Kim Roberts is the communications coordinator for the History Center.