Forging ahead—with a nod to the past

New Blacksmith's Shop at Fort King National Historic Landmark

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Posted May 16, 2023 | Photos By Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette

The past came alive on May 11 when a new blacksmith’s shop was dedicated at the Fort King National Historic Landmark in Ocala.

The freestanding building, in which guests could see the glow of fire and hear the ringing sound of metal being worked, was made possible by a donation by philanthropist and businessman Frank DeLuca, owner of DeLuca Toyota. He told attendees that a lot of people were involved, including members of the Fort King Heritage Foundation and Chap Dinkins of Dinkins Construction.

Keith Hill, with Dinkins Construction, is a blacksmith and champion on the History Channel’s “Forged in Fire” program. He created more than 2,000 nails in his home forge in Ocklawaha for the blacksmith shop, according to the foundation’s most recent newsletter. He told the crowd on Thursday that he did his best to “represent the community, represent the past,” and said he got a lot of support from the archaeology department on site.

Re-enactors in period dress welcomed visitors and a cannon was fired as part of the festivities.

The landmark at 3925 E. Fort King, St. is jointly owned by the city of Ocala and Marion County.

A city news release noted that the project broke ground in December 2022 and was completed in April. The blacksmith shop “will serve to educate and demonstrate the history of blacksmithing and the importance it played in the history of the fort, and the early life of settlers,” it stated.

The Fort King Visitor Center and Archaeological Resource Center are open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. To learn more, visit and

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