Harry Burden

November 23rd Celebrates Harry Burden

Today on Days to Remember we celebrate how Harry Burden patented the horse shoe manufacturing machine on November 23rd 1835.

Henry Burden was a prolific inventor, but it was his horseshoe machine that made a mark in history as a key factor in the Union’s victory during the Civil War.

Today, we worry about tires and the price of gas for our cars. Horseshoes and horseshoe nails never cross our minds – unless we happen to own a horse. In the first half of the 19th century, however, as more and more horses and mules were used for farming and transportation, horseshoes became a valuable necessity.

Henry Burden was born April 22, 1791, on a small farm near Dunblane on the River Forth in Scotland. The boy was a natural mechanic who tinkered with and repaired his father’s and the neighbor’s farm machinery.

Henry sailed for America in 1819 and soon found himself working at a machine shop in Albany, N.Y.

Three years later, the Troy Iron & Nail Factory across the Hudson River from Albany hired Henry as superintendent. He invented a machine to make spikes. When the fledgling B&O Railroad began to lay flat iron rails westward from Baltimore in 1830, he designed a machine to make the rail spikes needed for the project.

Henry apparently had long thought about a machine to make horseshoes.

On November 23, 1835, he patented such a device. He continued to improve the machine, which took a red-hot iron bar and cut off a correct length before a series of dies pressed the bar into shape, thinning the inner edge and pinching and thickening the heels, while forming the grooves and punching the nail holes.

Henry began to manufacture horseshoes at his shop, which was capable of turning out 60 finished horseshoes every minute.

At the start of the Civil War, Henry Burden & Sons (Burden had bought and renamed the Troy Iron & Nail Factory in 1848) was in a position to supply Union Armies with millions of horseshoes. It has been written that, without Henry Burden & Sons, the Northern Armies would have been unable to mount the several large-scale invasions of the South that eventually resulted in a Union victory.

After Henry’s death in 1871, his descendants ran the firm (later called the Burden Iron Co.) until 1940, when it was sold to Republic Steel. The plant was shut down in 1968, but the fancy office building is still in use as headquarters of the Hudson-Mohawk Industrial Gateway.

Today’s YouTube presentation brought to you by user name, (Huf Eisen), gives you a brief history of horse shoeing throughout history, as we celebrate how Harry Burden patented the horse shoe manufacturing machine on November 23rd 1835.

Why is horse shoeing important for horses?

Horses need shoes just like people do, to a new horse owner, maintaining your horse’s hooves may seem like a fussy way to spend your time, but it’s an important part of keeping your horse healthy.

Their hooves, which were adaptable in the wild where travel was constant and varied, get too long and uneven under domestic conditions. Hooves, like our toenails, have to be kept trimmed back or their growth makes them frail and uneven, causing large pieces to break off. If your horse’s hooves break, split or grow unevenly, they can cause your horse to become lame.

When people wear shoes that don’t fit properly, their balance and spinal health are compromised: proper hoof care for horses is as important as wearing properly fitting shoes is for humans.

Hooves grow about a quarter inch each month, and need trimming to stay even and to prevent breakage. The farrier removes the shoes, trims the hooves and replaces the shoes. Shoes won’t keep your horse’s hooves from growing; if they aren’t trimmed often enough or if they shoes stay on too long, your horse will go lame. Sometimes the shoes can be reused; your farrier will decide.

If your horse has tough, smooth hooves that aren’t inclined to get too long in the toe or deform in other ways, and if your activities don’t require special shoes for support, you horse may be able to get along fine barefoot. The hooves will still need trimming every six weeks: many horse owners learn to do this work themselves, and that’s something to neigh about as we celebrate, how Harry Burden patented the horse shoe manufacturing machine on November 23rd 1835.

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell


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