Along the Greene River Trail
W.A. Young & Sons Foundry and Machine Shop
National Historic Landmark
The W.A. Young & Sons Foundry and Machine Shop is a prime example of America’s industrial heritage. William A. Young, owner and operator of the business built the Machine Shop with lumber from the family farm.
In 1908, the shop expanded to include the foundry. The other major change to the shop occurred in 1928 when it was electrified. The shop produced parts for steamboats, coal mines, railroads, and for local businesses.
After Young’s death in 1940, his sons continued operation of the Machine Shop until 1965. The complex was left intact, including the buildings, machine tools, hand tools, and other equipment.
In Dec. 30, 1979, the family sold the shop to private investors and in 1985, the building and all its machinery was purchased by the Greene County Historical Society. In 2009, Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation took ownership of the site and obtained its recognition as a National Historic Landmark in 2017.
William A. Young, a descendant of two established families of Washington and Greene counties, purchased a plot of land in Rices Landing in 1900. The following year his mother, Rachel A. Young, bought the adjoining lot and sold it to her son in 1902. William Young built his foundry and machine shop on these two parcels of land and operated the facility until his death in 1940. Young’s sons, Walter and Carl, carried on the operation until 1965.
An experienced carpenter, Young constructed a two-story frame machine shop on the property, using wood from the family farm supplemented by wood purchased from a local sawmill. The 45 foot by 40 foot building housed the machine and pattern shops. Over the next several years, Young expanded the operation and floor plan, adding a 45 foot by 25 foot back shop with a dirt floor and, in 1908, a 75 foot by 27 foot foundry. The foundry included a charging cupola and a traveling crane on an independent track.
Most of the work undertaken by W.A. Young & Sons came from area coal mines. The first deep shaft coal mine opened in Greene County in 1902. Soon after, other mines opened in the county, including captive mines owned by steel corporations. Those firms gave W.A. Young & Sons a good deal of business.
In 1923, the shop spent five months making parts for the steamship Atha, owned by the Crucible Fuel Company, a subsidiary of Crucible Steel. In 1935, W.A. Young & Sons changed the wheels on a 13-ton locomotive and made a flange, both for Crucible. Other products for coal and steamboat companies included shafts for coal tipples, grape arbors for steamboats, drills, bushings, oiler cans, and grates.
W.A. Young & Sons participated in war training programs during World War II. The program, which was run in cooperation with the federal Works Progress Administration, was open to men between the ages of 18 and 50. Training would include operations of engine lathes, shapers, drill presses, planers, bench lathes, and grinders. Later in the war, programs opened to training women as well as men on machine tools.
The machine shop continued to operate for another 20 years following the end of World War II. In 1965, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers demolished the navigation Lock & Dam No. 6 at Rices Landing, decreasing the importance of river trade in the community’s livelihood.
Take a Guided Tour
Guided tours are available most Sundays from April to November. General admission is $10 and tours are limited to 10 people. Book your Guided Tour online today! No tickets will be sold at the door.
Experience More at the Hammer-In Festival
Blacksmiths from the tri-state area convene for the Hammer-In Festival in Greene County! This annual event occurs on third Saturday in April at the W.A. Young & Sons Foundry and Machine Shop. Join Rivers of Steel for an amazing, behind-the-scenes historical experience!
During the Hammer-In Festival, we’ll open the doors, switch on the machines and invite area blacksmiths to demonstrate just how this unique machine shop operated! Guided tours and blacksmith demonstrations occur throughout the day. Members from the Pittsburgh Area Artists Blacksmiths Association and the Appalachian Blacksmiths Association will demonstrate blacksmithing processes and auction off their artworks to support the Machine Shop, PAABA and ABA.
Festivities begin at 9 am, with a welcoming ceremony at noon, followed by the auction a 1 pm and an aluminum pour courtesy of Rivers of Steel Arts. Admission is free and refreshments are available for purchase. A family-friendly event, don’t miss this opportunity to watch the past come alive!
More information at riversofsteel.com.
About the Greene River Trail Signage Project
Greene County Tourist Promotion Agency completed this project in partnership with the Rivers of Steel Heritage Area. Funding was provided in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation, administered by Rivers of Steel.
Special thanks to: Brice & Linda Rush, Danielle Nyland, Flenniken Public Library, Greene County Historical Society, Greene Connections, Advanced Masonry, Greene County Commissioners, Greene County Conservation District, and Greene County Department of Recreation.