- Associated Press - Sunday, June 21, 2015

FARMINGTON, Pa. (AP) - A touch of nostalgia wafts through the mountain area; a nod to the laborers, farmers and merchants in generations past who worked with lumber and coal. A common denominator among those professions was the local blacksmith shop that supplied everything from horseshoes to welding repairs.

Passed down from father to son for four generations, Jacob King’s Blacksmith Shop in Farmington is now in the hands of Gene King and his son David. Gene’s grandfather, Jacob, opened his shop in 1905 and passed it on to his son - Gene’s father - John King.

“Back in the day, we serviced a lot of local sawmills and farmers, and repairing truck bodies,” said 81-year-old Gene King. “My grandfather did the old-time shop with horses and the whole nine yards.”

Gene began his work with welding repairs in high school, though he stepped away from it for several years when he was drafted in the army in 1953. After serving two years in France after the Korean War ended, Gene returned home and at age 22, began his full time work as a blacksmith.

“My grandfather had the original building along Route 40 where Pizza Hut is now. It was a long, narrow building. He did blacksmithing on one end and another fellow made tombstones on the other end,” Gene said with a laugh. Jacob’s shop along the heavily-traveled National Pike would have been a prime location for horse-and-buggy travelers and laborers passing through.

The original shop was lost in a fire. In 1950, the new, sprawling structure, now marred with coal smoke stains and decades of weather, was constructed on Elliottsville Road across from Wharton Elementary School.

On any given day, Gene and David can still be found working in the shop; hammering a hook out of red-hot iron on the anvil, stoking the coal-fed fire or fabricating new pieces of work.

“There are still a lot of loyal people who stop by for repairs; we’ve been in the mountains all of our lives, and nobody else around here really does this stuff,” said David.

Though David works full time at an Ohiopyle-based wholesale souvenir company, he often works in the blacksmith shop to make extra money and perfect his craft. And though he retired at age 72, Gene still “fiddles around,” creating Christmas gifts and trinkets.

“It’s important to keep the tradition going, knowing that it’s fourth generation,” said Gene.

As the times changed, so did their clientele and demand. Now, 46-year-old David says blacksmithing is “not as much a ‘need’ now as it’s a ‘want.’”

“We now create a lot of ornamental pieces like railings, decorative hooks or candle holders,” David said, adding that they often take their creations on the road to local festivals and flea markets. Their portfolio can also be found on their Facebook page, Kings Blacksmith Shop.

“Now, there are just a lot more hobbyists. A lot of people think it’s a dying trade, but it’s not,” said Gene. “There’s more of a demand for architectural-based items.”

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Online:

http://bit.ly/1Lnf0Bi

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Information from: Herald-Standard, http://www.heraldstandard.com/

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