In the late 1800s, horse-drawn carts, wagons, and carriages dominated city streets, and southern agriculture still largely depended on the power of horses and mules. To meet the demand for horse and mule shoes, Tredegar began selling machine-made horseshoes in 1873. By 1887 a series of buildings for the producing horseshoes had been constructed at Tredegar in the area where you are standing.
Tredegar hired J.H. Snyder in the early 1870's to develop machinery for making horseshoes. Tredegar began selling machine-made horseshoes in 1873, and employees Snyder, H.C. Osterbind, and Peter Greenwood all received patents for the horseshoe-making equipment.
From Laborer to Manager: The Osterbind Family
Born in Germany, Anton Osterbind joined African Americans and immigrants from the British Isles at Tredegar in the 1840s. He was a laborer who eventually became foreman. His son, Henry Carter Osterbind (pictured at right) entered the Tredegar spike mill when he was about 15 years old and eventually became the manager of several departments, including the horseshoe department.
Horseshoe Shop workers included skilled machinists, semi-skilled operators and unskilled laborers who moved the raw materials and finished products. Machinists could cut, fit, and fabricate metal on a variety of machines; operators merely fed heated metal blanks into a single machine, which formed the horseshoe in several strokes. Most skilled and semi-skilled jobs were reserved for whites.