In October 1986 I spent a couple of days documenting a 20th century blacksmith shop that had been slated for removal in advance of a proposed shopping center development and highway widening. Located at the intersection of Due West Road and Dallas Highway (SR 120), the shop was the first of two Cobb County blacksmith shops I documented in 1986 and 1987. This is the second in a series of posts on the shops.
The Due West Road blacksmith shop, Georgia archaeological site number 9Co246, was part of a farmstead that included a residence and other agricultural outbuildings. In 1986, Due West Associates, Inc., a company owned by developer Cliff Rosen, acquired 26 acres at the Due West Road and Dallas Highway intersection.
View Cobb County Blacksmith Shops in a larger map
Due West Associates began clearing and grubbing for the development of a shopping center that eventually included a Kroger supermarket in the early fall of 1986. Earlier that year, a Georgia Department of Transportation architectural historian had surveyed the corridor to fulfill the agency’s obligations to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
The parcel where the blacksmith shop was located was determined to be outside of the project’s Area of Potential Effects and therefore was not evaluated for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The architectural historian, however, thought the property was interesting and provided me with the contact information for the developer to conduct an independent documentation of the site prior to its demolition. The results were reported in several academic conference papers; in a report to the state historic preservation office; and in two published peer-reviewed articles.
In 1986, the stretch of Dallas Highway where Due West Road terminated was sparsely developed and rural. Sprawl was encroaching and the proposed development and impending highway improvements were among the earliest undertakings that transformed that part of Cobb County from a rural hinterland into suburbia.
When I arrived at the site, the developer had cleared most of the tract and had left the shop intact pending completion of my research and its proposed relocation to another site. The pictures below capture what the site looked like on October 13, 1986.
I photographed the entire shop, interior and exterior. The workspace was mostly intact with a stone forge, anvil base block, and a workbench. Trash inside the shop suggested that it had been occupied by vagrants at some point after its abandonment. Most of the tools had been salvaged, along with the anvil.
I mapped the entire building, measuring its footprint and the documenting the interior layout. I removed trash and other debris to fully expose the forge’s clay hearth and I carefully excavated the anvil base block to reveal how it was mounted. Plan and profile drawings were prepared and the feature was backfilled.
I completed fieldwork on October 17, 1986 and returned to the Georgia DOT office with my field notes, artifact samples (tools, scrap, machinery parts, coal samples, and forge wastes), and photos. The reports were completed and by March of 1987, the shop had been relocated.
I had not returned to the Due West Road site prior to my visit in late 2012. According to Cobb County land records, in October 1987 Due West Associates sold the one-acre parcel where the blacksmith shop was located to Citizens and Southern National Bank. Subsequent mergers enabled by relaxed interstate banking laws in the 1990s resulted in Bank of America succeeding C&S Bank and the property today is a Bank of America branch. The former blacksmith shop was located at the western end of the bank’s parking lot.
When I began the Due West Road research I created a blacksmith shop archaeology bibliography that was first posted on the Web in the early 1990s. Although dated (last updated in 1999), the bibliography continues to be cited. Now, Google appears to be a more useful online resource for sources on blacksmith shop architecture and archaeology.
Stay tuned for Part III: The Lost Mountain Blacksmith Shop.
Part I: Cobb County blacksmith shops: a return (December 30, 2012)
Part II: Cobb County blacksmith shops: Due West Road (9Co246) (This post)
Part III: Cobb County blacksmith shops: Lost Mountain (9Co247) (Forthcoming)
© 2013 D.S. Rotenstein