The Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum on Saturday will celebrate the opening of is working blacksmith forge, housed in one of the historic barns at Claude Moore Park. It’s the latest exhibit designed to help tell the story of the county’s rich agricultural roots.
Blacksmiths were once integral to farms for making and repairing tools and other farming equipment. According to Census records, there were approximately 80 blacksmiths in Loudoun County in the mid-1800s.
Replicating a late 1800s/early 1900s forge, the new exhibit was designed by the Blacksmith Guild of the Potomac and constructed by the stone and brick mason class at the Academies of Loudoun. The project was completed in February, but largely has been under wraps because of the coronavirus pandemic, with visits limited to school programs. Executive Director Lori Kimball said that once COVID restrictions are lifted the museum plans to host live blacksmithing demonstrations monthly. A formal grand opening was celebrated in late November.
“We have a whole bunch of blacksmithing equipment that was donated to us, include a fabulous leather bellows,” Kimball said, highlighting the large air blower that is marked with the name Laycock, a longtime Loudoun farming family.
In fact, there are lots of familiar names featured throughout the museum. Farming was the chief industry in Loudoun through most of its history, until the construction of Dulles Airport brought the extension of public water and sewer service—and the first wave of residential development—in the early 1960s.
Permanent exhibits highlight the lives and accomplishments of 10 generations of Loudoun farm families; allow visitors to step into a general store, a farm kitchen and a one-room schoolhouse; and tell about the Native Americans who lived in the area.
The American Workhorse Museum Collection, also housed on the property and open by appointment, displays scores of tools used to plant and harvest crops before tractors hit the fields. Among the most popular pieces there is the dog treadmill once used to power equipment.
Saturday’s program will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will include live demonstrations. The event is free and open to the public, with face coverings required for everyone age 5 and older. One family group at one time will be allowed inside the forge, and social distancing and a limit of 25 people will be enforced during the wait in line.
The museum is located at 21668 Heritage Farm Lane within Claude Moore Park in Sterling.
Currently, it is open during the week by appointment and for self-guided tours on weekends. For more information, go to heritagefarmmuseum.org.