Arsonists torched the bucket in June 2005 at its Cannonsburgh home at 312 S. Front St. behind Camino Real on Northwest Broad Street.
Faithful members of the Rutherford County Blacksmiths’ Association pledged two years ago to build a replica of the famous bucket. But problems locating the rare, high-quality red cedar caused the project to be delayed.
Cannonsburgh Mayor Allen Ragland expects the volunteer blacksmiths to start the project next month after the park closes for the season the end of October.
“Once we get everybody hammered down into one place, it should be pretty quick,” Ragland said.
Employees of Tennessee Red Cedar Woodenworks Co. of Murfreesboro built the bucket in 1887 as a promotional tool. It was shown at the World’s Columbia Exposition in 1893 and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904.
The factory reorganized in 1945 when it became known as J.W. Patterson and Sons. After the factory burned in 1952, the bucket was displayed at Crigger’s Market and a Georgia amusement park before becoming a major part of Cannonsburgh Village in 1976.
Bill Patterson, whose family owned the bucket factory, was 2 years old when the factory closed.
“It was a curiosity item, one everyone always knew about,” Patterson recalled. “It was a symbol of past industry.”
After the bucket burned, Ragland said people offered the blacksmiths nice cedar boards with knots that could fall out. The original bucket didn’t have any knots.
“If we built it (with knotted wood), we would build the world’s largest sieve,” Ragland said with a laugh.
Employees of the Haney Mill in Woodbury located the red cedar from trees believed to be several hundred years old. The high quality wood is comprised of red cedar with very little white wood.
“The lumber was kiln-dried for us so it got the moisture out,” Ragland explained. “There’s plenty to go around the circumference of the bucket.”
Before starting the project, blacksmiths must measure the charred remains of the original bucket to get the exact measurements and angles to make the bucket round.
“We want it to be round like an ‘O,’” Ragland said, adding, “It’s going to be a learning curve.”
Most of the 30 blacksmiths work and spend time with their families so they don’t have much time to volunteer. Ragland doesn’t know when the bucket will be completed but he knows the blacksmiths are committed to “doing it right. It will be done as it gets done.”
Until then, visitors can get a taste of the pioneer village during the free Harvest Days and Fiber Festival from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Cannonsburgh. Blacksmiths will work in their shop while weavers will spin yarn and weave.
The grist mill, which has been out of service for six years, should be working since new wooden gearing was added. Visitors can observe corn mean being ground with the water wheel turning.
“It’s something neat to see,” Ragland said. “It should be fun for families.”
Lisa Marchesoni may be reached at 869-0814 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.