Bally Blacksmith Shop
Three generations of the Bally family worked as blacksmiths. Sam Bally, whose skills were crucial to the lumber industry, arrived in 1903 to work for a sawmill. In 1911 he started his own business and built the long-standing Bally Blacksmith Shop that we see today.
Upon Sam’s passing, the family business went to his son Albert, an electrical engineer and army veteran. He eventually passed the shop to his son Bill. Bill and Albert worked at the shop together for decades, and it was a very active site until the 1990s. Many in the community have fond memories of Bill, Al and the Shop.
Through its repair work, the Bally Blacksmith Shop has chronicled Cook County’s economic history progressing from horse-drawn lumber camp equipment to motorized commercial fishing rigs to tourist automobiles and snowmobiles. The building represents utilitarian, commercial, false-front architecture, which once lined the streets of small towns. It is one of very few original blacksmith shops that remain in Minnesota and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
bally blacksmith shop today
In 2013, the Cook County Historical Society along with the aid of Cook County, received a grant for $130,000 to purchase the Bally Blacksmith Shop property with a Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage “Legacy” Grant from the MN Historical Society. Since then, we have been working to stabilize and preserve the building, catalog its contents, tidy up the grounds, and establish a working shop.
Since 2013, there have been many improvements and work done on the blacksmith shop. There is a new roof and windows and the Historic structure report has been completed. Over one thousand artifacts have been collected on site to be displayed and operated at the site. Additionally, many oral histories about Bally's and the site have been collected and documented.
Currently, weekend blacksmithing demos called Bally Blacksmith Demo Days have taken place and will again occur this year.
The Future of Bally Blacksmith Shop
The future of Bally's consists of having architectural drawings and engineer specifications done for the remaining work on the historic building plus the restoration of the shop front and original “S. Bally Sign.” We will also be rebuilding the chimney and re-siding the building with rolled roofing.With the help of donations we hope to have the site open weekly by next summer.