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.