Blacksmith visits Geneseo family

Claudia Loucks
Richard Trahan shared his blacksmith skills with family and friends in Geneseo.
Richard Trahan, a blacksmith who formerly worked at the John Deere Historic Site in Grand Detour, and now living in Texas, recently visited family in Geneseo, and demonstrated his skills. He is photographed with Kaleb Riley, at left, and Kaden Riley, Geneseo.

Richard Trahan has a saying, “When your job is your passion, you never have to work,” and that is exactly what Trahan has done. He is a blacksmith by trade, retired as the Deere & Co. blacksmith at the John Deere Historic Site in Grand Detour and has continued to work with medals in his business - “Ghost Hammer Forge – Richard Trahan, Proprietor & Blacksmith,” located in his hometown of Warren, Texas.

On his return trip to Texas after taking part in an event in Columbus, Ohio, Trahan stopped in Geneseo to visit family, Trevis and Kerry Riley and their sons, Kaleb and Kaden.

“I had to stop and see my family,” he said, and added that he also visited his son in Polo.

Trahan was born and raised in southeast Texas and said his dad was a machinist “and I learned a lot from him, about metal in general.”

After high school, he went into the United States Air Force, and was married…”She (his wife) had a horse when I married her and the first time the farrier came out to shoe the horse, I was hooked because he had a blacksmith shop in his truck,” Trahan said. “I got to see him heat and bend metal and make it into horse shoes.”

He explained there are traveling farriers, those that travel to the horse barns to shoe the horses; it is a thriving business because as long as you have people who have horses, there will be traveling horse-shoers”

It was Trahan’s brother-in-law who got him to move from Texas to the Dixon area, and he said, “My brother-in-law was a farmer and if he cut his finger, it bled John Deere green. He took me to the John Deere Historic Site in June of 1995 and there was a sign in the shop that said ‘Blacksmith Wanted,’ and I started working there that same month.”

His position bloomed from being a blacksmith at the local historic site into also being an ambassador for the John Deere brand.

“After 24 years working there, I went back home to Texas and opened my own blacksmith shop, Ghost Hammer Forge, on property that has been in our family for 50 to 60 years.,” he said.

Trahan describes himself as an ornamental decorative iron worker and said, “In my world I do iron work for the home, hearth and beyond. I am a fix-it shop and I have an ornamental iron work shop.”

He said he is well known for the trivets he creates and said those are “one of the most popular items I create.”

He also fashions an iron rose, a stand alone item, made of steel.

When asked about the largest piece he has created, Trahan said it was a gate, eight feet wide and 10 feet tall, that he was commissioned to do in the early 2000’s at a historic building in downtown Chicago.

“I just finished a life size turkey tail feather for the National Wildlife Turkey Federation, about four or five inches across and 16 inches tall…That one tail feather has 16 hours of work in it for the detail in it.”

Trahan said he works with steel and uses brass to accent pieces…”My iron work speaks for itself. I have always told people that it is the imperfections that make it perfect. I do not work in factory reproduction, and I don’t like doing piece work. I like everything original; no two pieces of my work are exactly alike, similar, but not alike.”

For more information, visit him on face book and Instagram at ghosthammerforge.