H is for Horseshoe

Pope County Museum A-Z is a continuing feature of our blog. Each week, I will highlight an item or items from our Museum collection.

This week’s item is a horseshoe.

This horseshoe cushioned in rubber was clamped on the horse’s hoof and advertised to outlast an ordinary shoe 120 times. It is adjustable.

It is one of many inventions by Mr. Aurthur Smithson, a blacksmith in Glenwood. Smithson came to Pope County in 1894 when he built his own blacksmith shop in Sedan where he lived for 6 years.
In 1890 he moved to Brahm, Minnesota then returned to Pope County in 1904 when he moved to Glenwood. He worked in a foundry and iron worked factory, operated a Horse Shoeing Shop and was known as an inventor.

His inventions included a horse-drawn wagon box with short turning wheels, self cleaning garden rakes, detachable plowshares and the pontoon boat. Yes – the pontoon was invented right here in Pope County in 1939.

Smithson’s Pontoon boat – invented in 1939.

The November 30, 1939 issue of the Glenwood Herald ran an article generating excitement about the new invention, which had recently been advertized on WCCO radio. There were 2 models – a seven passenger and a 3 passenger. He advertized that he could custom make larger ones for resorts and clubs. We have his scale model for the seven passenger pontoon here at the museum.

Model pontoon

A photograph of Art Smithson’s pontoon on Lake Minnewaska ran in the Glenwood Herald in 1945. Unfortunately, the idea didn’t catch on at the time despite the fact that his boat “Lillie of the 10,000 Lakes” was safer and more efficient than standard boats.

Art Smithson – inventor

Photo of Smithson’s Pontoon

(Official credit for the invention of the Pontoon goes to Ambrose Weeres, a farmer who lived on the Horseshoe Chain of Lakes, near Richmond, Minnesota. The first boat was “The Empress” was built in 1952. He built a few boats and sold them with the help of dealers. He started Weeres Industries to meet unexpected demand. Weeres, later called “Mr. Pontoon”, was elected to the Minnesota Marina Hall of Fame.)

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One Response to H is for Horseshoe

  1. Karen Cunningham says:

    Interesting. What an enterprising man, and he had the right name. To play with Longfellow, “The Smithson a mighty man was he…”

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