Cavalliere's Blacksmith Shop

George “Cavie” Cavalliere passed through Scottsdale on a work detail and ended up establishing the town’s first blacksmith shop, still in operation today. Crossing the southwest for several years in a mobile tin trailer while dredging portions of the Arizona Canal Project, he and his wife Mary Alice chose Scottsdale as the place to set down roots, raise their family, and start a business. Cavalliere is emblematic of the hard-working civilian workers that formed the nucleus of Scottsdale’s earliest enterprising residents.

Federal programs like the National Reclamation Service led workers like Cavalliere to the region and laid the groundwork for stimulated population growth in Scottsdale and other towns dotting the Southwest. From 1904 to 1909 Reclamation workers dredged canals, dug tunnels and reservoirs, constructed roads and bridges, and laid telephone wires, providing much needed water sources and linking towns in the American Southwest to the rest of the nation. Despite its problems and critics, the efforts to “reclaim” desert land and make it suitable for habitation and farming during the first decade of the twentieth century helped towns like Scottsdale to become enduring communities.

After their work was complete, many Reclamation engineers and laborers remained in the region and settled in western towns and hamlets. These hard-working civilians brought a strong work ethic and practical skills to their new communities, and their prior work in construction, excavation, and maintenance made them valuable assets. Cavalliere came to the Scottsdale region after his Reclamation work ended in 1909, and he made a name for himself as a local business owner when he opened his blacksmith shop on Second Street and Brown Avenue—what was then considered the edge of town.

Still in operation under Cavalliere family management, the business opened by "Cavie" evolved with the times. When cars increasingly replaced horses and the ranching industry in Scottsdale declined, the blacksmith shop add farm equipment and auto repair, as well as ornamental iron-making, to its menu of services. Cavalliere, like many Reclamation workers who settled and seized new work opportunities in western states, performed much needed services in early Scottsdale and contributed to the backbone of industry and innovation that enabled Scottsdale to grow from a fledgling community to an established residential and commercial center.


The Outskirts of Town Written by Megan Keough; narrated by Janet Stein. Recorded at Scottsdale Channel 11; courtesy of the Papago Salado Association.


George S. "Cavie" Cavalliere, Sr.
George S. "Cavie" Cavalliere, Sr. Rugged young George "Cavie" Cavalliere stands in front of his blacksmith shop in 1910. In its early years, the shop (pictured far left) was a tin and wooden building, later to be replaced by a more enduring adobe structure in 1920. Source: Image courtesy of Scottsdale Public Library.
Digging the Arizona Canal, 1880s.
Digging the Arizona Canal, 1880s. Work on the Arizona Canal began in 1883 after the formation of the Arizona Canal Company. This image shows company workers, complemented by teams of wagons and horses, digging the canal passage. In 1906, the federal government assumed the operation of the canal. Source: Image courtesy of Scottsdale Historical Society.
Cavalliere's Blacksmith Shop, circa 1910.
Cavalliere's Blacksmith Shop, circa 1910. "Cavie" Cavalliere holds his eldest daughter Mary Alice next to the original site of his blacksmith shop at the intersection of Brown Avenue and 2nd Street. with Camelback Mountain in the background. The shop was one of the earliest businesses in Scottsdale. Source: Image Courtesty of Scottsdale Public Library.
Cavalliere Family Home, early 1900s.
Cavalliere Family Home, early 1900s. Mary Alice Cavalliere and her eldest daughter Alice stand next to the family's mobile home along the Arizona Canal. The tin shed sat on skids, allowing a team of horses to pull the "shop" along the canal as work progressed. Image courtesy of Scottsdale Public Library.
Arizona Canal, early 1900s.
Arizona Canal, early 1900s. Redredging the Arizona Canal was one project of the National Reclamation Service after the federal government took over the canal operations in 1907. Pulled by horses and mules, coal-fired barges with shovels moved westward along the Arizona Canal, attracting spectators as they progressed. Source: Image courtesy of the Scottsdale Historical Society.



StoryTour Team and Stephanie McBride-Schreiner , “Cavalliere's Blacksmith Shop,” Salt River Stories, accessed May 24, 2024,