Blacksmithing on Cowell Ranch

Blacksmith Shop.  Photo Courtesy of the Friends of Cowell Lime Works Historic District.

Blacksmith Shop. Photo Courtesy of Friends of the Cowell Lime Works Historic District.

The UC Santa Cruz campus and much of the adjacent Pogonip land was originally part of Cowell Ranch. Henry Cowell bought the land in 1865 for its extensive lime and timber resources. Ranching operations ceased in 1964 but many of the buildings in use at the time still stand at the base of campus today.

During the Cowell lime-making and ranching time period, ranch blacksmiths were essential for fashioning horseshoes and wagon parts necessary for ranch operations to run smoothly. Cowell ranching operations were largely self-contained and the ranch blacksmith did the job to fashion or fix just about anything that was made out of metal.

Metal must be extremely hot in order to shape it with hand tools. Photo courtesy of   FlickrLickr.

Blacksmithing. Photo courtesy of Scott Sandars.

By heating wrought iron or steel until it becomes pliable enough to shape, the blacksmith could then hammer, cut or bend the glowing hot metal with hand tools. At Cowell Ranch, the ranch blacksmith made stove parts, wagon parts, gate and barn door hinges, branding irons, horseshoes, and so forth.

Read the full blog post to see what was unearthed near the blacksmith shop at UCSC here at

Take the Self-Guided Mobile Tour

This piece is part of a tour all about the Cowell Lime Works Historic District at the University of California, Santa Cruz by Frank Perry on behalf of The Friends of the Cowell Lime Works Historic District. You can download the free app with many tours of the Santa Cruz area and beyond.

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Julia Gaudinski

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