Eden, Utah’s Blacksmith Shop
Written and Photographed by Brian Nicholson
Built in 1895, the old historic building across the street from Eden Park, which had once provided essential services to the farmers in the valley, had sat vacant for years. The old brick walls still housed all the tools, horseshoes, machines, and bellows which had been used for over 70 years to fashion items out of metal. It was originally used as a blacksmith shop by Jesse Wilbur and his son Glenn.
There were once more than 20 blacksmiths working in the Ogden area. In 1971 however, Glenn Wilbur was the only blacksmith shop still open. That’s when he hung up his leather apron and closed his doors.
The building remained just as Glenn Wilbur had left it. After ownership of the building changed hands a few times, it was purchased by someone who had a vision to restore it. Then, after decades of inactivity, the property was restored between 2011 and 2014. Currently, the building is nearly identical to the one build over a century ago, housing a fully functioning blacksmith shop managed by a contemporary modern day blacksmith, Aaron Richardson.
Richardson took over the position of owner of Ragnar Forge after working as a demonstration blacksmith at This is the Place State Park. Now as more of a production blacksmith, his job is to fill custom orders and commissioned pieces by appointment.
“They were looking for a blacksmith to sort through nearly a hundred years worth of tools and other items that ended up in the shop and determine what would be appropriate to display as actual blacksmith tools. Through the course of doing that, I met the man who owned the shop and he expressed interest in having the shop used again as a working blacksmith shop,” said Richardson.
Some of Richardson’s most commonly created items include custom door hinges, door knockers, latches, and specialty tools. He even creates roses out of metal.
The shop features two forges, one for larger pieces and one for smaller items. In front of each forge are large anvils fastened to stumps. Around the shop are countless historic tools and other machinery used by Jesse and Glenn Wilbur. Some minor modern modifications, such as electric blowers are also visible.
The old oiled floorboards that are numbered so meticulously are back on the floor as if they never left. J.M. Wilbur Co. Blacksmith Shop is back in business, operating as Ragnar Forge. Stop by. Look around. Step back in time 100 years, to a time when blacksmithing was a hot commodity.