Greetings!  This is Joe Morse at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.  This week I bring you my fourth Service Spotlight, where I interview a volunteer from one of our sites to get to know them better.  In these interviews, you will also be able to get a better sense of what they bring to our volunteer program, their personality, and other cool facts about them.

This September I had the chance to interview Al Lindholm. Although Al has only been volunteering at the fort for a year, Al seems to be right at home!  Al volunteers in the blacksmith shop, not only re-creating historical iron items from the 1840’s, but also charming visitors with his optimism and sense of humor.  In addition to blacksmithing at the fort, Al also practices it at home as a hobby.  Al is an engineer by trade and a former employee of 3M, so his love of making things comes naturally.

Here’s what Al had to say:


How long have you been volunteering at Fort Vancouver?

I’m just coming up on a year.

What do you typically do in the blacksmith shop?

We try to make reproduction of artifacts and we interact with the public.  We also tell them what life was like in the fur trade days.

How did you come to be a volunteer at Fort Vancouver?

I saw an ad for a blacksmith shop class for $10 two summers ago with Jay Close. So I took the class, inquired about becoming a volunteer, and here I am!

What’s your favorite thing about volunteering here at Fort Vancouver?

Well I think learning about the history of the Pacific Northwest.  The fur trade was an integral part of life here.  I grew up in the Midwest and the fur trade around lake superior is a whole lot different than it is here.  This is new history for me. (and a pretty good oxymoron)

What keeps you volunteering?

I enjoy learning and trying to develop my skills to reenact what life was like during the fur trade era.  And trying to reproduce items in iron that would have been made.

What the biggest challenge of being a volunteer and how do you overcome that?

I haven’t really encountered what I would consider a big challenge. I’m having fun!

What’s one thing you’d like to tell people who come to the fort?

A personal opinion is that blacksmiths were a cornerstone of society, they were highly skilled craftsmen, and were able to make all the tools and hardware that were required for life here.

Any cool facts about yourself that people should know?

I grew up around a farm in North Dakota and we had a blacksmith shop. Blacksmithing has been a hobby of mine ever since.  So when I moved out here I eventually bought a farm.  You can take the boy out of the farm but you can never take the farm out of the boy.

So ends my interview with Al Lindholm.  To keep learning about our wonderful volunteers, stay tuned for next month’s November Spotlight. And come Al at the blacksmith shop forging some new history!