Burkard Riegel, a native of Germany, came to Clermont in 1931 and set up his blacksmith shop. He operated the shop until the early 1980s.
“The Faithful Village Blacksmith” is a skill which has become extinct in many areas – and a business which is exclusive in many fields.
Mr. Riegel’s record in shoeing race horses (a much more technical job than the average farm plug) was 11 horses in 3 hours and 15 minutes. A few years ago he was called to shoe Gene Autry’s famous horse “Champion” before he could perform at the Fayette County Fair.
While still a young man in Germany, Mr. Riegel worked three years as an apprentice under a master blacksmith, then wrote his thesis for the state board to get his master’s title. His horseshoeing diploma was earned in a semester of special training in a state technical school.
Besides all the sidelines that come under regular blacksmithing, Clermont’s Village Blacksmith was an artist in the molding and construction of wrought iron railings and decorative posts for porches and patios, and his artistic ability can be witnessed far beyond the immediate area.
BELOW: Pictures of the interior of the blacksmith shop – the shop and its contents remain right as they were until they were last used in the early 1980s. The State Historical Society was so impressed with Burkard and his shop, that in 1967, they expressed a desire to help preserve it for future generations. The shop is now on the National Register of Historic Places.