Finding History in Siouxland, Cook’s Blacksmith Shop, Ponca, NE

6 Jan
A red wheel dominates Cook’s Blacksmith Shop in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History is all around folk, even in Siouxland. Finding it can sometimes be easy, understanding it or getting more information about a person or place can sometimes be more problematic.

Information about the blacksmith shop provided online is short: “The Cook Blacksmith Shop was built in 1901 by C. O. Cook, who operated his business for over thirty years. The building is owned by the Ponca,NE Historical Society, which uses the shop as a living history museum. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, that occurred in 1974.”

Cook’s Blacksmith Shop in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. Available information says the blacksmith shop, owned by Coran Cook was built in 1901 in which he operated it for 30 years. The shop is operated by the Ponca Historical Society and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photograph of Coran Cook, founder of Cook’s Blacksmith Shop in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The contents of the building finds time standing still with tools of another century and apparently the only heat during winter months a wood stove in a backroom. I recently re-visited the site with a photo class I teach. When I visit places like this and similar ones, I always want to know a little bit about its history, who and why and what for preceding the modern day era. Unfortunately the Historical Society volunteer who let us in had another appointment to get to so he let us wander about the shop imagining what Mr. Cook did during those years as a blacksmith when more people, farmers included, used horses for transportation and work. The way west would not have been possible without horses, and the men who tended to their needs when a “retread” or changing of a horseshoe was necessary, or to care for an animal hurt while doing its owner’s bidding.

A different time and sensibility, but important in its day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A look at tools used in Cook’s Blacksmith Shop in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Possibly a favorite chair inside Cook’s Blacksmith Shop in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A pot bellied stove in Cook’s Blacksmith Shop in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Inside Cook’s Blacksmith Shop in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Detail image from inside Cook’s Blacksmith Shop in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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