Industrial Power Hammers Refurbishment

Center for Metal Arts is located on the Cambria Iron Historic Landmark, designated in 1989, the only American steel mill to receive this designation. These buildings hold a collection of tools including five industrial steam power hammers (2,000lbs-10,000lbs), several forges, and seventy-five pallets of hand tools. Prior to our arrival two local organizations, the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority and the Johnstown Area Heritage Association, paired up to stabilize the site with a $1.4 million grant from the National Parks Service. This effort saved the tools and equipment from being destroyed or damaged beyond repair. The collection contains items that are rare and hold significant information about blacksmithing history.

We have proudly taken on the responsibility of restoring this tool collection. Core to our mission is the preservation through use of the historic Cambria Iron Company facilities in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Once completely restored we plan to use the collection for educational and craft purposes. Any tools beyond repair will be displayed in a gallery for guests and visitors to view.

The project is currently being phased out due to the amount of time required to restore the entire collection. In 2019 CMA restored the first industrial power hammer, a 3,000 lb. Chambersburg. The hand tool collection has been sorted and palletized. We have paired up with Korns Galvanizing, a local Johnstown Galvanizer, to begin the refurbishment of these tools. They are currently storing the majority of the pallets to keep them from further exposure to the weather.  

The next phase will include two industrial power hammers and one forge, planned for 2022. During this phase we plan to purchase all of the necessary equipment instead of renting. Purchasing the air compressor will allow us to run the hammers more frequently, hold more educational opportunities, and demonstrations, once refurbished. It will also make refurbishing the rest of the collection more accessible.

Purpose/Objectives

     The purpose of this project is to preserve the history and culture this collection of tools possesses, then to use the tool collection to educate the blacksmithing and our local community. We plan to first refurbish the collection to working order and then preserve it through use by instructing workshops, creating forgings, and providing historic industrial demonstrations.