W.A. Young & Sons Foundry in Rices Landing Designated a
Washington PA Observer-Reporter
16 January 2017
By Bob Niedbala
RICES LANDING – W.A. Young & Sons Foundry and Machine Shop in
Rices Landing, considered by some as one of the area’s least known
historic sites, is finally getting the recognition it deserves.
The machine shop, which was built in 1900 and has remained
relatively unchanged since the days it serviced the riverboat,
railroad and mining industries, has been designated a National
Though the significance of the building has been recognized in the
past, “this is the pinnacle of designations,” said August R.
Carlino, president and chief executive officer of Rivers of Steel
Heritage Corp., which owns the shop and proposed the landmark
Only about 2,500 sites are now designated as national landmarks,
“This really puts it up there among the elite,” Carlino said. “It
is truly of significance to get this designation.”
The machine shop was built by William A. Young, a local carpenter
and farmer, in 1900 and was expanded in 1908 to include the
foundry. The building contains all the original machinery it had
when it closed in the late 1960s.
The metal lathes, drill presses, grinders, saws, planers and
shapers that fill the shop date from between 1870 and 1920 and are
run by a system of leather belts and wooden pulleys mounted to the
ceiling that was originally powered by a single steam engine and
is now run by a gasoline engine. The foundry has the original
coke-fired furnace, metal ladles and the traveling overhead crane.
Wooden patterns that were used to make the cast-iron parts are
found throughout the building.
In making the announcement of the designation last week, U.S.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell called the shop an
outstanding example of a small, family-owned, 20th-century foundry
and machine shop.
“‘Job shops’ like W. A. Young & Sons, which did custom jobs
for a variety of clients, were an important component of the
American industrial economy facilitated by the development of
machine tools and line-shaft power systems,” she said. “The
property includes perhaps the finest collection of machine tools
found in a small job shop.”
The landmark designation is the highest form of federal
recognition that can be awarded to a historic site. To receive the
designation, the corporation had to prove the site not only
possesses integrity but also that its history is nationally
The designation will help to attract more attention to the shop
and to its historic significance, Carlino said. This should, in
turn, help the corporation obtain money to further the shop’s
maintenance and preservation.
The landmark designation, Carlino said, highlights not only the
work Young did at the machine shop and foundry but also the
community’s effort to preserve the building as it was after the
shop was closed.
The shop closed in 1969. Young had died in 1940 and at the time,
the business was being run by his two sons, Walter and Carl. The
building remained closed until 1985 when it was purchased by the
Greene County Historical Society.
Volunteers from the society made initial repairs to allow the shop
to be reopened to the public. George “Bly” Blystone, caretaker of
the shop, credited the late George Kelley for being instrumental
in that effort.
Unable to raise money or get grants needed to fully restore the
building, the historical society in 2009 transferred the property
to the Steel Industry Heritage Corp.
The corporation has completed some restoration work on the
building, putting a new roof on it and last year beginning a
project to replace damaged wood siding and repair the foundation.
However, a lot of restoration work still needs to be completed,
Blystone, who has been the volunteer caretaker of the shop for the
last 15 years, said he was happy to hear of the designation.
“It means that (the shop) is being recognized finally after all
these years as an important piece of the American industrial
revolution,” he said.
The building is very much appreciated by those who know of it,
“But many people don’t know it’s here,” he said. “It’s under
Blystone and volunteer Gary Shriver usually open the building each
Sunday. Blystone urged people to come see it, although he urged
anyone wanting to visit the shop to call him in advance at
724-710-4898 to make sure he will be there.