Oklahoma native has added to his horseshoe creations

Joe Smith used horseshoes to build a half-size replica of a Stearman PT-17 Kaydet biplane at his home in Leedey, Oklahoma.
by Bryan Painter Published: February 11, 2013

And though his 44-foot-tall saguaro cactus horseshoe creation seems massive, it's no match for the height, depth and width of Smith's incredible imagination, which has been churning for some time.

Smith grew up about a mile south of his present home.

“My dad had a blacksmith shop over there where he'd sharpen plow points and did different things,” Smith said.

“When the rest of them would all take a nap, I'd go out there and crank the forge up and make something.”

But, for many years there wasn't a lot of time for that. Smith operated a dozer from the Oklahoma-Texas state line east to Clinton, and from Camargo south to Elk City, doing soil conservation work.

However, even though he stopped running a dozer, his mind and hands have kept going. They have to.

“This is basically a fun thing, but I think it's because he's not able to get on that dozer any longer and run it,” Leah Smith said. “He's got to be doing something. He reads. You cannot believe how much he reads, and it doesn't make a difference what it is, Forbes, Time, Zane Grey books.

“It takes him a little longer to make his things in the shop now because he doesn't work as many hours. He still does it though.”

His mind seldom rests.

“Well, you go to bed at night and you try to go to sleep, and you can't,” he said. “You're thinking ‘What am I going to do now?' ‘Am I going to change this up?' It doesn't ever end.”

And he doesn't really want it to.

Asked why he created the horseshoe airplane, Joe said he'd given it some thought for three or four years.

“So that's one way to get it off your mind, get it done and do something else,” he said.

What on his mind now?

“I don't know. I'm still thinking,” Smith said. “I don't want another big project that takes six months to a year.

“I'd rather do something smaller that somebody can't even dream about.”

by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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