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Landmark Pangborn smokestack taken down

June 06, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com
  • Josh Merrbaugh of Allegany Wrecking and Salvage of Hagerstown uses a 2-ton wrecking ball Monday to bring down the smokestack at the former Pangborn Corp. plant in Hagerstown.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — The landmark smokestack at the former Pangborn Corp. plant in Hagerstown fell Monday.

Allegany Wrecking and Salvage tore down the 100-foot smokestack along Pangborn Boulevard printed with the word “Pangborn.”

All that remains of the demolition project is to “clean up and get out of there,” said Joel Merrbaugh, owner of the company contracted to demolish the building.

The goal was to have the demolition complete by mid-summer, Merrbaugh said in December.

Using a combination of a wrecking ball and sledgehammers, the company brought down the smokestack Monday. The top few feet of the stack were brought down by hand, while the remainder was taken down by a wrecking ball.

Merrbaugh said the top was removed by hand because the company did not have wrecking equipment tall enough to reach the top of the stack.

A trail of brick and dust formed as Josh Merrbaugh and Denero Sylvester knocked loose brick into the smokestack at the former site of the Pangborn foundry.

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The Pangborn Corp. was founded in 1904 when Thomas W. Pangborn developed the process known as sandblasting, which combines compressed air and sand to clean metal by particle impact, according to the company's website.

The company moved its headquarters to Hagerstown in 1912 and broke ground for its campus on Pangborn Boulevard in 1915.

The company would boast it had the world's largest plant devoted to making equipment to clean metals with abrasives.

During World Wars I and II, Pangborn equipment helped overcome foundry bottlenecks that slowed the production of bombs, shells, tanks and ships, according to published accounts.

At its peak in the 1960s, the company employed more than 1,000 people at the Hagerstown plant.

Thomas Pangborn retired from the company in 1963, the same year the company was bought by The Carborundum Co. Several owners later, the plant at Pangborn Boulevard ceased production in October 2000.

In 2007, Pangborn announced it would relocate its corporate headquarters from Hagerstown to Fairburn, Ga.

At the time, the company employed about 50 people at the Hagerstown plant, and the company planned to retain a small office of about 10 engineers who would continue working in Hagerstown until they quit or retired, company officials said.

Staff Photographer Ric Dugan and Steff Writer Julie E. Greene contributed to this story.

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