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, 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.
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Environmental Technician to Discuss State Parks at Waynesboro Industrial Museum
The stories of two of Pennsylvania’s oldest state parks will be shared with an audience as part of a special discussion at the Waynesboro Industrial Museum later this month.
Wesley Foltz, the seasonal environmental interpretive technician at Caledonia State Park, is scheduled to speak at the museum beginning at 7:00 on Tuesday, July 30. Anyone who attends will have the opportunity to learn about the iron making process, as well as the industrial history and natural history of Caledonia and Mont Alto State Park.
Foltz’s presentation, entitled How Furnaces Shaped Our Parks, coincides with the museum’s 2013 exhibit, Out of the Ashes: From Iron Works to Education, Recreation & Restoration, an extension of last year’s focus on the important role iron furnaces played in shaping the history of Franklin County, as well as other parts of America.
Most of the pictures and articles that appeared on display panels throughout the course of 2012 have remained in place this year, but new information about the legacy of the Mont Alto Iron Works has been added to the exhibit. Visitors can also now learn about the creation of Michaux State Forest, South Mountain Restoration Center and the Forestry Academy of Mont Alto.
About the Speaker:
A man who describes himself as “very comfortable in the outdoors,” Wesley Foltz has been taking people on hikes in Caledonia for twelve years and goes kayaking in his free time.
Foltz graduated from Shippensburg University and earned a bachelor’s degree in history education and a master’s degree in geography-environmental science. With a passion for global travel, he studied at Humberside University in England, worked as a dog-sledding instructor in Stavanger, Norway and was an English teacher in Köln, Germany.
During the school year, Foltz teaches Early American History to 9th grade students at the Career Magnet School in Chambersburg and teaches night classes at Shippensburg University and Harrisburg Area Community College. He lives in Shade Gap with four very spoiled cats.
Professor Visits Waynesboro Industrial Museum to Discuss Forest Conservation
Dr. Peter Linehan, an Associate Professor of Forest Technology at Penn State Mont Alto, spent the evening of Tuesday, March 19 at the Waynesboro Industrial Museum. His presentation was titled, An Overview of the History of Forest Conservation in Pennsylvania Resulting in the Creation of a Forestry Academy at Mont Alto in 1903 and How it Succeeded.
During the evening, Linehan spoke about topics such as the over-exploitation of Pennsylvania’s forests at the end of the 19th century and the lives of Dr. Joseph Rothrock and George Wirt, who was the first professional forester in the state.
This presentation was the first in a series scheduled to support the industrial museum’s 2013 exhibit, Out of the Ashes, From Iron Works to Education, Recreation & Restoration.
About the speaker:
A native of Lewiston, Maine, Dr. Peter Linehan graduated from the University of Maine with a B.S. in Forestry in 1979. He and his wife, Sheri, then joined the Peace Corps and served for two years in Burkina Faso in West Africa, where Linehan went on to teach at the National Forestry School and serve as an agroforestry advisor in Senegal, as part of USAID projects.
After returning to the United States in 1988, he resumed his studies at the University of Maine, earning an M.S. in 1989 and a Ph.D. in 1993 in forest economics. Following graduation, Linehan taught Natural Resource Conservation courses at a University of Florida satellite campus in Milton, FL. He has been a professor at Penn State Mont Alto since 2000.
Linehan has published research articles on forestry education, timber stumpage markets and the forestry history of Pennsylvania. He and Sheri now live in Fayetteville. They have two adult children, Blaine and Brianna.
Historian Returns to Waynesboro Industrial Museum to Discuss Mont Alto Furnace
For the second time in 2012, historian Stan Haas discussed important aspects of Franklin County’s iron industry at the Waynesboro Industrial Museum.
During “In Search of Mont Alto Furnace: Part 2″ on Tuesday, October 23, Haas shared his personal discovery of the furnace’s Old Forge and Rolling Mill sites during an appearance at the museum in June.
This second presentation featured information on the history of the main location in Mont Alto. Haas discussed the construction of the furnace by Samuel and Daniel Hughes in the early 1800s. He then moved on to talk about the work that was done there throughout the rest of the 19th century, and those in attendance learned why Mont Alto Furnace was eventually forced to close.
Haas also spoke on the process of using wood from the area’s many trees to create charcoal, as well as how iron ore was transformed to make pig iron before eventually being used to manufacture kitchen supplies, such as pots, pans and stoves.
This presentation complemented the Waynesboro Industrial Museum’s 2012 exhibit, “Furnaces and Forges: The Legacy of Our Area’s Iron Industry.” This year’s focus has been on the important role iron furnaces played in shaping the history of Franklin County, as well as other parts of America.
Visitors to the exhibit have had the opportunity to learn about topics such as the Mont Alto Railroad, The Iron Act of 1750 and the influence of Colonel George B. Wiestling.
Historian Discusses Furnace Site Discoveries at Waynesboro Industrial Museum
Members of the Waynesboro community and others in the surrounding areas recently got the chance to learn more about Franklin County’s iron industry in the early part of the 1800s.
Historian Stan Haas presented, “In Search of Mont Alto Furnace,” on Tuesday, June 19 at the Waynesboro Industrial Museum. Haas shared his personal discovery of the furnace’s Old Forge and Rolling Mill sites, which he first sought out to find seven years ago after being intrigued by reading a description of “The Old Iron Works of the Cumberland Valley.”
Upon locating the sites along the modern day Old Forge Road, Haas photographed the area, mapped layouts of the mill and unearthed artifacts, such as a cast gear, which remained in the ground for more than a century after work ceased at the site. All of these discoveries, along with other illustrations designed by Haas, information about water wheels and several images of the Mont Alto Iron Works were shared with the audience on June 19.
This presentation was held nearly a month after volunteers launch the museum’s 2012 exhibit, “Furnaces and Forges: The Legacy of Our Area’s Iron Industry.” This year’s focus is on the important role iron furnaces played in shaping the history of Franklin County, as well as other parts of America.
Beginning on May 26, visitors to the exhibit got the opportunity to learn about topics such as the Mont Alto and Cumberland Valley Railroads, The Iron Act of 1750 and the influence of Colonel George B. Wiestling.
Waynesboro Industrial Museum Preparing to Launch 2012 Exhibit
The research is done. The pictures have been scanned, and the information has been typed up. Now, volunteers at the Waynesboro Industrial Museum are ready to share their wealth of knowledge with members of the community.
The museum’s 2012 exhibit, “Furnaces and Forges: The Legacy of Our Area’s Iron Industry,” will be open to the public for the first time on Saturday, May 26 from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. This year’s focus is on the important role iron furnaces played in shaping the history of Franklin County, as well as other parts of America.
Visitors to the exhibit will have the opportunity to learn about topics such as the Mont Alto Iron Works, The Iron Act of 1750 and the influence of Colonel George B. Wiestling. A series of display panels will depict what life was like for workers in the 18th and 19th centuries, as they used horse power, water power and steam power to convert raw materials into iron.
Information will also be provided on the Mont Alto and Cumberland Valley Railroads, as well as the legacy left by the Mont Alto Furnace, which includes state forests, state parks and Penn State’s campus in the small Franklin County town.
“After several months of hard work and dedication, we’re really excited to unveil our new exhibit to members of the Waynesboro community and others in the surrounding areas,” says Pat Fleagle, President of Waynesboro Area Industrial Heritage Trust. “There’s a lot to learn and appreciate when it comes to the early days of iron making. We look forward to sharing that with anyone who visits the museum this year.”
To coincide with the launch of the new exhibit, Franklin County Historian, Stan Haas, will speak about the iron industry and other related topics at the museum on Tuesday, June 19. His presentation, entitled “In Search of Mont Alto Furnace,” will begin at 7:00 p.m.
Volunteers who have worked to ensure this new exhibit will be a success include Frank Bittner, George Buckey, Jon Fleagle, Haas, Bill Helfrick, Ed Ingels, George Kirk and Lanny McCleaf.
In addition to the grand opening of the exhibit on May 26, the museum is also scheduled to welcome visitors on several dates throughout the end of October. These include Monday, May 28 (Memorial Day), Wednesday, July 4 (Independence Day) and Monday, September 3 (Labor Day).
For a full listing of dates when “Furnaces and Forges: The Legacy of Our Area’s Iron Industry” will be open to the public, please visit the “2012 Exhibit Info” section of this web site.
Trio of Trolley Enthusiasts Entertain Guests with Presentation on the Waynesboro Trolley System
In conjunction with their current museum display, “Our Waynesboro Transportation Heritage,” members of the Waynesboro Area Industrial Heritage Trust recently sponsored a presentation about the town’s trolley system, which operated during the first 32 years of the 20th century.
David McCarney, Ed Miller and Gordon Heidelbach presented “Do you Remember Riding the Trolley Through Town?” at the Waynesboro Industrial Museum on Tuesday, January 10. The three men have examined engineering maps and researched the route of the Chambersburg, Greencastle and Waynesboro Street Railway System, a popular method of transportation from 1900-1932. Their presentation took attendees on a trip back in time, teaching them about the role the trolleys played in forming the history of Franklin County.
Waynesboro Teacher Visits the Museum to Speak on the “Pre-Explosion of Industry” in Local Area
The Waynesboro Industrial Museum was packed with visitors on Tuesday, October 11 when the Waynesboro Historical Society and the Waynesboro Industrial Heritage Trust co-sponsored a presentation by Darwin G. Seiler on the “Pre-Explosion of Industry in the Waynesboro Area.” Seiler addressed reasons for the emergence of industry in our area, specifically during the period of 1850 to 1865. He also spoke to the events that “set the stage,” enabling such industrial pioneers as Frick, Geiser and Landis to “hit the road running.”
During the evening, Jared Wagaman, one of Seiler’s former students, unveiled his “Senior Project,” a model depicting the “Industrial History of Waynesboro” from 1900-1945. Wagaman was awarded an “A” for the project, which showed the geographical location of the Frick, Geiser, Landis Tool and Landis Machine Companies and also included an historical industry narrative. The 20-year-old graduated from Waynesboro Area Senior High School in 2011.