The Blacksmith of Caledonia Park
For the past three summers on Sunday afternoons, David
Sucke has been pounding away at red hot metal to the
delight of visitors at Caledonia State Park’s blacksmith shop.
“I love it when children stop and watch and are
mesmerized by the process,” said the 40-year-old volunteer.
“It reminds me of when I was a kid watching people
Dave brings an authentic nineteenth century air to his work,
sporting a heavy leather apron and a coal smudged shirt,
topped off by a black derby. He repeatedly takes steel rods,
heats them up in his century-old portable forge to a red -hot
glow and then pounds them against an anvil into various
forms. His most popular products are curly hooks for
hanging clothing which he often gives away to spectators.
He sprinkles his demonstrations with stories about a back
woods blacksmith who fixed a new fangled automatic
transmission and how a king proclaimed the blacksmith to be
the greatest of his craftsmen because he made all the tools
for the other artisans. He also throws a little molecular
physics into the mix. “I’m just interested in demonstrating
and just showing off ,” he said.
Dave, who lives in Greencastle, is an experiential educator
with a local youth at risk program. He got the urge to start
smithing in 2009 when his grandfather told him he wished he
had spent more time with the local blacksmith. “So I made it
my mission to learn about blacksmithing to answer his
questions” Dave said.
He is usually at the blacksmith shop on Sundays from noon to 4 p.
m. from June through August. People in the park can tell he’s there
when they see smoke billowing from the open doors. That’s when
kids come running over from picnics and on some occasions, they
offer Dave a hot dog and soda from their family gatherings.
Dave volunteers his services to give visitors an idea of how things
were done at the time that Thaddeus Stevens owned the iron works.
And his reward is their thanks. “You don’t expect to be thanked,” he
said. And the Thaddeus Stevens Society especially thanks Dave.
Dave Sucke demonstrating the blacksmith craft to an attentive audience.