Playing With Fire

. . . or perhaps more appropriately, working with fire.

We’re at the roundhouse of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad in Blue Island, Illinois. Jack Delano wandered into the blacksmith shop in the building one day in April of 1943. There he captured this view of Blacksmith John Kelsch (pronounced as Kelseh) working at his forge.

Steam locomotives were an interesting machine in that so many of their components were hand fashioned. When a replacement part was needed, the shop forces would literally make one. And blacksmithing was an essential part of that operation.

John Kelsch, Blacksmith, CRI&P RR