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Industrial museum could be permanent in Pa.

September 09, 1997

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Artifacts in what is now a temporary exhibit on the history of Waynesboro's industrial strength, assembled in celebration of the borough's 200th anniversary, could become part of a permanent museum, an exhibit spokesman said.

"We hope the exhibit stirs up enough interest to start a permanent museum," said William Helfrick of Waynesboro, a retired advertising manager from Teledyne Landis Machine Co., one of four local industrial giants featured in the exhibit.

Helfrick said the local Chamber of Commerce tried to start an industrial museum in 1982 to recognize Waynesboro's metal-working industries but it never got off the ground.

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The current exhibit, in one of the former outlet mall buildings on Walnut Street, was the brainchild of the Waynesboro Rotary Club. "It's the club's contribution to the Bicentennial," Helfrick said.

The exhibit opened in June and closes Oct. 4. It is manned by local AARP volunteers and retirees from Teledyne Landis Machine Co., Landis Tool and the Frick Co. All three companies are still running.

Artifacts from the Geiser Manufacturing Co., which closed in the 1920s, are in the exhibit.

A committee of Rotarians borrowed artifacts for the exhibit from the industries represented, the local historical society and private collections, Helfrick said.

The four industries got their start in the mid-19th century and early 20th century.

Geiser made giant Peerless steam engines, used among other things as farm tractors and road-building equipment. It also made farm machinery. The Frick Company made steam engines under the Eclipse brand in its early years, then later switched to refrigeration equipment, which it still makes.

The Landis brothers - Franklin. F. and Abraham B. - owned a steam engine manufacturing plant in Lancaster, Pa., which was bought out by Peter Geiser in 1879 and moved to Waynesboro. Geiser needed an engine to power the farm equipment he was making. The Landis brothers came to Waynesboro with the deal.

Later the Landis brothers opened their own shop on Ringgold Street in 1889, according to "The Twenty Minute Whistle," a brief history of the four companies, written by George B. Coffman in 1980. Coffman's book was reprinted for the borough's bicentennial celebration.

The Landis Brothers' shop burned down in 1897 and was rebuilt with money from local investors to become Landis Tool Co. In 1903, other local investors bought threading rights from Landis Tool and started the Landis Machine Co.

All four of the Waynesboro plants began exporting their products overseas. The three still running enjoy a worldwide market, Helfrick said.

"This little community has been selling world-class products since the turn of the century. You can find Frick refrigeration equipment all over the world," he said.

The museum is open from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday, 1 to 8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

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