The blacksmith’s sons continue to pull the anvil at the Stuhr Museum | Grand Island Local News
A year ago, Randy Dack was indulging in one of his favorite pastimes: anvil shooting at the Stuhr Museum.
Dack died on February 26 at the age of 61. So on Monday, his three sons continued their father’s explosive Fourth of July tradition at the museum.
The event drew several hundred people to parking lot G of the Stuhr Museum, which is not far from the Immanuel Lutheran Church.
Jerod Dack of Shelton, Adam Dack of Juniata and Brandon Dack of Grand Island performed the anvil shot. Starting at noon, they fired the anvil three times.
Randy Dack worked as a blacksmith at the Stuhr Museum during the summer months and moved into maintenance during the winter.
“It was one of Randy’s highlights every year – pulling the anvil,” said Tom Oshlo, the museum’s facilities manager.
Gunpowder propels a large anvil weighing 85 to 90 pounds into the air.
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Prior to ignition, the heavy anvil rests on a lighter anvil, weighing approximately 20 pounds. The smaller anvil, which is actually part of an old railway tie, is knocked down.
Black powder is placed between the anvils. Plasticine surrounds the gunpowder in the shape of a ring. The blacksmith pushes the smaller anvil down to form a seal. Then the barrel wick is lit.
Jerod Dack lit the fuse once. The honor also went to Brandon’s son, Cayden Clampitt, and Adam’s 13-year-old daughter, Madison Dack.
“If you don’t like gunpowder, you’re not a Dack,” Cayden, 12, said after the explosions.
Randy Dack’s widow, Sarah, was not surprised by the good crowd. Who doesn’t love smoke, gunpowder and bong? she asked.
The anvil fire initially had nothing to do with the 4th of July. Originally, the inhabitants of a village pulled an anvil to call people to town.
“If there was a fire, if there was an Indian attack – whatever, they could fire the anvil, and that singing anvil would draw people in,” said Oshlo, who explained the history of the proceedings. before Monday’s shooting.
When done correctly, the chanting of an anvil can be heard from great distances, Oshlo said.
Over time, anvil shooting became an Independence Day tradition in Stuhr and other localities.
Dack worked at Stuhr for just under 25 years. His sons plan to continue pulling the anvil every year.
“Dad was important enough to keep the arts of the last years alive,” said Adam Dack.
Not only was he a master blacksmith, but he participated in the Civil War and the reenactment of the Mountain Man. He was also a wheelwright. It “could do anything from nails to hardware for your home,” Adam said.
Nothing gave her more joy than finding an old object and then trying to replicate it, Sarah said. She was also constantly surprised by her knowledge of history.
“He touched so many lives,” she said.
Two of Monday’s anvil shots were successful. The middle one sucked.
The Dack brothers thought it went pretty well on their first outing. In the past, they helped their father, but they are still learning the nuances.
To prepare, Jerod and Brandon Dack went out last weekend to shoot the anvil three or four times.
In addition to the Stuhr Museum, Adam remembers his father shooting the anvil during festivities at the Clay Center.
Randy Dack graduated from Oklahoma Horseshoeing School in 1980. Prior to his death, he underwent five-way bypass surgery. An artery burst three days after surgery.
Monday’s anvil shooting took place after the German-language service at Immanuel Lutheran Church. The service was led, as usual, by Paul Hofrichter, who also played panpipes.
Jeri Erickson played the organ during the service and the German Liederkranz singers performed.
A parade was held at 2 p.m., followed by a concert of patriotic music, presented by the Silver Cornet Band, and a program.
A host of traditional races were held for the children after the program.
Monday’s events at the Stuhr Museum kicked off the city’s 150th anniversary celebration. Mayor Roger Steele was on hand.
Admission was free for everyone on Monday, thanks to the help of the Greater Grand Island Community Foundation.