I have learned a lot about old times in California as I have worked on editing this book on Pres Longley, the miner poet. Yesterday John Rudderow, the instigator of this project, told me about the old custom of “firing the anvil” on the 4th of July.
Want to make a lot of noise and don’t have a cannon? Not to worry, you can have the same level of excitement and racket with a couple of anvils and some black powder. Every town had at least one blacksmith who had the necessary equipment, so it wasn’t hard to arrange.
(I don’t recommend trying this at home, even if you do happen to have an anvil. Could be dangerous.)
Take one anvil and turn it upside down. On the underside is a hollow about the size of a brick. Pour in some gunpowder and place a fuse or a trail of gunpowder. Then place the other anvil right side up on top. When you light off the gunpowder, you will get a terrific explosion and the top anvil will fly at least a hundred feet in the air. It will come down too, so clear the deck.
To see some anvil firing, go to YouTube or take a look at this one. Or go up to Weaverville on the 4th of July. It looks like they are still firing anvils at their celebration.