A Brief Waynesboro Industrial History
Agriculture, the availability of iron ore, the smelting of pig iron, the art of casting metal, and the ingenuity and genius of a handful of unique, talented individuals had much to do with the formation and growth of the area’s metalworking industry.
The first iron-producing furnace in Franklin County was built in 1783 near Mount Pleasant in Path Valley. The Mont Alto Furnace, started in 1807, was the closest to Waynesboro.
Along came men like George Frick, Peter Geiser, John Metcalfe, and Abe and Frank Landis in the mid-to-late eighteen hundreds. Relying heavily on cast parts, they took paper and pencil in hand to design, make, and remake part and products until they had it right. No computers, numerical controlled machines or specialized skilled staffs— just determination, self-confidence, and the sweat of their brow.
The efforts of these individuals resulted in companies like Frick, Geiser, Landis Tool, and Landis Machine, all of whom became world renown selling world class products long before the term “world class” was coined. The Geiser company is no longer in existence, but Frick—York International, Landis Gardner—An Allegheny Technologies company are still active organizations. Local industry wealth is further enhanced by Beck Manufacturing, maker of pipe nipples and couplings, and Grove International, the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile cranes and lifts. There were, of course, others who started business, some of which flourished, and others that fell by the wayside.
From this relatively small area came threshing machines, pipe nipples and couplings, steam and gasoline engines, tire chains, grinding machines, phonographs, threading machines and tools, mobile truck cranes, ornamental iron fencing, and even the early beginnings of an auto.
As reflected in the organization’s mission statement, the museum is not only committed to preserving the area’s history, but also to recognizing present industrial accomplishments while keeping an eye on the future.