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Charles Maplesden Recalls His Father’s Blacksmithing Skills

Charles Maplesden was born in 1916, son of blacksmith Charlie Maplesden and his wife, Verna, of Etna, Calif.  The family moved to Greenview where the father opened a blacksmith shop.

Charles recalled that his father was so strong that when shoeing a draft horse he would “hold onto [its] forefoot while it reared up on its hind legs. He wouldn’t let go but held the weight of the horse as it thrashed about…when he let go, the animal seemed glad to stand quietly.”

Charlie formed each horseshoe in the general shape of a human shoe because people wanted “heels and toes” to increase traction and make the shoes last longer.

The toes had to be welded on.  Charles described how his father heated the forge until it was more white than red, placed the shoe and its toe on the anvil, and, as Charles put it, “struck just so with his big hammer: Bang!” … and the shoe and toe became one piece.

His father shaped the hot shoe to the horse’s hoof and trimmed excess material for a perfect fit.

Most farriers shoe horses cold today, making forged shoes a lost art of early blacksmiths.

Source: Maplesden, Charles. It Was Like This. Yreka, Calif.: Self-published, 2006. 2-4. Print.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.