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American West Heritage Center holds its 5th annual Mountain Man Rendezvous (Part II)

The 5th annual Cache Valley Mountain Man Rendezvous was held this Memorial Day weekend at the American West Heritage Center in Wellsville, Utah. Below is a conversation between reporter Max McDermott and blacksmith Michael Mendenhall.

Michael Mendenhall: So I'm an engineer. And this is what I do in my evening times, I like to do blacksmithing. My name is Michael Mendenhall. My little small business is Fighting Quaker Forge.

So that's one of the things, when I talk to the kids, I say okay, “when you put iron in there it goes hot, and then it goes soft like Play-Doh. What can you make with Play-Doh? Anything. Can you make animal shapes? You can make all sorts of things, right? How would you make a snake with Play-Doh? Roll it up with your hands. Well, I can't do that because it's 1,800 degrees. So I have to use tongs and hammers and things to shape, but I can still make a snake.” But these are just the fun things I like to do. It’s like playing with Play-Doh at 1,800 degrees.

Max McDermott: Is that how you feel about it?

Michael Mendenhall: Oh yeah.

Max McDermott: What kind of engineering do you do?

Michael Mendenhall: I'm a manufacturing engineer, but right now my job is a quality engineer.

Max McDermott: So do you feel like this is your opportunity to actually like play with engineering.

Michael Mendenhall: Yes.

Max McDermott: And sort of play with building and that sort of thing?

Michael Mendenhall: I became an engineer because I like to make things. But as an engineer, I tend to write reports. And report about writing reports. And so a lot of my stuff uses some design and engineering principles that I've learned in school, and so forth, that make these engineered to be useful first and then beautiful after.

Max is a neuroscientist and science reporter. His research revolves around an underexplored protein receptor, called GPR171, and its possible use as a pharmacological target for pain. He reports on opioids, outer space and Great Salt Lake. He loves Utah and its many stories.