The blacksmith was an indispensable man in the early rural community, producing nearly all the ironwork needed before the advent of factory-produced wares in the mid-19th century. The blacksmith made farm implements, cooking utensils, nails, door hinges, locks, knives, axes, spinning wheel cranks -- in short, objects which touched the lives of every member of the community. He was also a repairman, mending broken ironwork.

The rural blacksmith also made horseshoes and shod horses, but in the 18th and early 19th centuries, this was only a small part of his job. In some more populous areas, this work was actually the trade of the farrier, a separate craftsman. As the economy became industrialized and factory-made ironwork became available, an increasingly large proportion of the blacksmith's time was devoted to shoeing horses. By the end of the 19th century, almost all of the blacksmith's time was devoted to shoeing horses.

LVM's Blacksmith Shop was originally located just outside Gettysburg. The oldest part of the building dates from about 1870 with additions made over the years. The forge and most of the tools date from the 1880 to 1900 period. The shop was owned by John W. Epley from 1904 until his death in the 1950's. Mr. Epley was master farrier for Hanover Shoe Farms, and after his retirement, he became skilled at reproducing decorative ironware. The shop, complete with tools, was moved to LVM in 1969.