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What’s the Deal With: The horseshoes outside of The Bagelry?

Blacksmith known as the ‘Mayor of Railroad Avenue’ used to live, work there

A few horseshoes are embedded in the sidewalk outside The Bagelry on Railroad Avenue in Bellingham. The horseshoes serve as a reminder of John Kastner
A few horseshoes are embedded in the sidewalk outside The Bagelry on Railroad Avenue in Bellingham. The horseshoes serve as a reminder of John Kastner
By Audra Anderson Assistant Editor

If you search the sidewalk outside The Bagelry on Railroad Avenue, you’ll spot a few horseshoes embedded in the pavement that date back to the “pioneer Bellingham Bay blacksmith.” 

John Kastner lived and worked at his Railroad Avenue shop in the late 1800s/early 1900s making horseshoes, and smithing farming and logging tools, said Jeff Jewell, Whatcom Museum research technician. 

It’s unclear when the horseshoes were embedded in the sidewalk — Jewell suspects it was either in 1924, when the wooden building was replaced with the brick one that still stands today, or in the 1930s, when Kastner moved his shop to State Street. 

“He put those horseshoes in the sidewalk so that nobody would forget all his years there,” Jewell said. 

photo  John Kastner, right, stands in front of his blacksmith business on Railroad Avenue in 1905. The wooden building was replaced with the brick one that still stands today in 1924. (Photo courtesy of Rembrandt Studio, Whatcom Museum)  

Because he did business with much of the town, Kastner was in on the working-class gossip and loved to tell stories, Jewell said. Shortly after moving to the area in 1889, Kastner joined the Sehome Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter, an experience that also lent plenty of exciting tales that he “retold for the rest of his life,” Jewell said. 

Kastner, who earned the nickname the “Mayor of Railroad Avenue,” died in 1944 at the age of 75. 

“He was quite the character, and he should be remembered — and that’s what those horseshoes are about,” Jewell said.

WTD is published online Mondays and in print Fridays. Have a suggestion for a “What’s the Deal With?” inquiry? Email us at newstips@cascadiadaily.com. 

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