The “Bowie knife” became an iconic American weapon in the mid-19th century, but few realize Arkansas’ connection to its story.
In 1830, knife-fighter Jim Bowie commissioned Arkansas blacksmith James Black to forge the 12-inch blade. Bowie’s killing of three Texas assassins and his death at the Alamo made him, and the knife, legends. Black’s workshop in Washington, Ark. became inundated with requests from frontiersmen eager to own a “Bowie knife.”
Known as “Arkansas toothpicks”, Black’s knives were notoriously tough, yet flexible, and used a secret tempering process rumored to be Damascus steel.
To date, Black’s forging technique hasn’t been duplicated.
– Margaret Willard, The 100 Companies