ROLLAG, Minn. – Kerwin Lund has been blacksmithing for 30 years, and he's been a Civil War 7th Cavalry re-enactor for 15 years.
But it wasn't until four years ago that the Hazen, N.D., man decided he'd bring his favorite hobbies together and build a replica Civil War-era traveling forge.
"It was time to combine. I had to do it," Lund said Saturday at the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion.
This year's event showcases blacksmiths and metal workers.
Lund, who teaches blacksmithing, said he worked by himself on the traveling forge for about 18 months, putting together the wheels, framework and coal box of the forge. Then he called on his brother-in-law Ron Rotenberger of Milnor, N.D., for his woodworking skills on the carriage and limber.
"I understand steel, but I'm not good with wood," Lund said.
At noon, Lund was off demonstrating a miniature Sageng thresher (an early self-propelled thresher).
Meanwhile, Rotenberger was working up a sweat near the Pioneer Village on the north side of the event site, pumping the bellows in the late summer heat and humidity to fire the coal in the small forge.
"It keeps me busy," Rotenberger quipped. "I get to do the sweat work. I enjoy watching the guys do it."
The replica forge, gun carriage and limber are painted a light olive drab, with a copper roof.
Such forges were assigned to artillery batteries during the Civil War. They carried blacksmithing tools, extra horseshoes, nails and spare irons to keep horses properly shod and to repair the cannons, limbers, caissons and wagons.
Rotenberger said the plans for the forge came from the U.S. Army.
"It's as close to original as we could get," Rotenberger said.
As Rotenberger took a short break from the bellows, Ty Smith of Hoople, N.D., heated a piece of iron in the forge. He then pulled the metal rod out and painstakingly pounding out a leaf as part of an iron rose.
Lund has worked in North Dakota's coal fields since 1985. Rotenberger farms corn and soybeans and raises beef cattle
This is the third outing for the traveling forge, the men said. The Sodbuster Days celebration next week at Fort Ransom in North Dakota will likely be its next appearance, Lund said.
The pair say they will work on a historically accurate limber for the traveling forge this winter, and if there's time, a caisson.
Lund adds that he enjoys demonstrating the art of blacksmithing.
"To me, we learn from the old stuff. I like to learn from the old stuff," Lund said.
The WMSTR continues today and Monday with gates opening at 6 a.m.
Daily admission is $12. Kids ages 14 and younger are free.
Along with a range of demonstrations, there are two parades daily-at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.-featuring the massive steam-powered tractors of yesteryear.
For more information, including directions on how to get to the site, go to www.rollag.com or visit the event's Facebook page.