Saturday, October 8, 2011

Blue Ox

The WINs toured the Blue Ox Millworks. Eric, the founder of Blue Ox, was our tour guide and host. Here he is standing in front of some of the antique equipment he acquired long ago. He didn't get the equipment to start a museum - he got whatever he could in order to start and run his business.

(You can click on any picture to enlarge it.)

Here's a closeup of these human-powered jigsaws. Some of these date back to the 1870's or thereabouts.  Eric demonstrated their use. He no longer uses these, but the kids who go to school here DO use these. More on the school in a bit.

Eric makes custom pieces for new houses and restorations all over the country. He showed us pictures of some of his work and here he's showing a sample of one type of work he's done.

Here's a picture of the lathe room.

Here's Eric demonstrating the use of a human-powered printing press in the printing room.

The printing press is used by the kids who go to school here. They print their own yearbooks as well as cards and poems, etc.

Regarding the school, this is from the Blue Ox Mill website:
"In 1989, the Blue Ox Millworks began hosting area students for the first time.  Through a partnership with the Humboldt Office of Education, this program was expanded in 1999 to include a full time high school.  Students of the Blue Ox spend three days of their week in a regular classroom setting, and spend the remainder of their days at the Ox participating in project based learning.  After 4-6 years they graduate with a regular high school diploma and a valuable trade. "

We were told that the kids that attend school here are those who haven't done well in regular school and were considered "trouble". There are 24 kids who go to school at Blue Ox. We had the opportunity to meet some of them who were working in the ceramic shop (sorry, no picture for that) and one of the students who became an instructor in the blacksmith shop.

The kids also learn how to smoke fish and can it. They learn to work in all the different shops and they make things that are sold in the gift store. The kids get half of the sale price and the other half goes into the program.

I enjoyed this tour as much as I'd enjoyed any tour anywhere and I highly recommend it to anyone in or around Eureka, CA.

1 comment:

  1. That was an interesting post. Great idea to give kids some hands on learning and a chance to turn their lives around.