Sparks A Flyin’ – Heritage Village – Largo, Florida

In the modern world that we presently live in, it’s easy to forget how we got all of this stuff in the first place. A while back a few friends and myself went to Heritage Village in Largo, Florida. I had heard great things about this place. As our great country grew, many buildings were being tore down and more modern structures were being put in their place. Fast forward to 2009. Around Florida, there were any old structures that were landmarks. These buildings were old and needed some TLC. A group of people came together to bring all of these buildings into one place so they could be cared for and people could come to one place to enjoy all of the buildings. This in my opinion is very cool. Being a photographer, I like old, broken down stuff. Makes for a great photograph and I also enjoy history.

Around the property there is much to see. They have structures that represent all kinds of buildings. They have a general store, train depot, church, residential housing, auto garage and a school house just to name a few. Not only have these buildings been restored, they are stocked with the materials that you would have found back then. For example, in the general store, all of the shelves are stocked with different kinds of canned goods and sacks of flour. They even found a cash register that was from this era…and it still works! It’s amazing to see what we ACTUALLY used to make in the good ole’ USA. Very cool stuff.

As we walked around the village, it was amazing to see how things got done “back in the day”. We had made the trip on a Saturday. The folks that run the village are volunteers and they dress in costume to the time period for that particular building. Off in the distance I heard this “pinging” noise. This of course got my attention and I had to see what was going on. The photography gods were looking on me today. The blacksmith had just showed up. He was dressed like you would expect. Leather apron, thick rustic pants, he looked the part. He was in the process of firing up the fire pit to start hammering out some metal. As I started talking with him, he explained that he is in charge of making all of the metal work for the village. Standing there like a moron, I said, “What all do you have to make?” He explained that he has to make all of the hinges for all of the doors, material for any handrails and custom make any tools that the auto mechanic might need. This was just the start. Today he was working on making horseshoes for the horses that were going to be used during a Civil War reenactment. This was like going back into a time worp. No automatic presses, tube benders, hydraulic presses…nothing! All by hand.

As he got the fire hot enough, he put some irons in the fire (now I see where this saying actually comes from) and cranked the blower by hand to get the fire hotter. After a few minutes, he pulled out of the pieces and took it over to the anvil with a hammer. Click on the thumbnail above to see a bigger version. As you can see, he is working the metal to shape it. As it cooled, he would return it to the fire to reheat it so he could work with it again. This was truly amazing to see first hand how this was done many, many decades ago.

How I photographed the blacksmith…
Basically this was a run and gun situation. I actually used my pop up flash to help bring him out of the shadows of the overhang. I also dragged the shutter a little to get the flying sparks to expose on the sensor. I took about 20 photos, but the one shown here is my favorite.

It’s seeing things like this that make you appreciate that espresso maker that you push a button on in the morning and it spits out a cup of coffee in no time flat. I highly recommend going and checking it out. The best part….it’s free! Check the website for the most current information.

Also on the property is a very large garden, again, free. I suggest going before the hot and humid summer rears it ugly head.

Until next time…

Keep Your Glass Clean

Spencer

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