RICES LANDING – The W.A. Young & Sons Foundry and Machine Shop has a shiny new plaque designating it a National Historic Landmark.
August Carlino, CEO of Rivers of Steel Heritage Corp., along with public officials and volunteers, revealed the new plaque Saturday during the annual Hammer-In Festival in Rices Landing.
“It points significance to this site for what the Youngs did for almost 100 years,” Carlino said.
The shop was built by William Young in 1900 and was used to repair supply riverboats and coal-mining equipment. All of the original machinery is still in the shop, which is now run by Rivers of Steel as a museum with demonstrations and other special events.
Carlino said, since the shop closed in 1968, it is surprising the equipment is still intact.
“The intact state of this facility is absolutely stunning,” he said. “In many other places, this would’ve been vandalized or destroyed. That says something about this community.”
The foundry was given the designation by the U.S. Department of the Interior in January, making it one of about 167 historic landmarks in the state and 2,500 in the country, according to the National Parks Service.
Carly McCoy, marketing director for Rivers of Steel, said the designation is only awarded to unique places with a national impact. She said what makes the foundry fit that bill is it was considered “small production,” between a small blacksmith shop and a factory.
“This is bridging the gap between those two time periods,” she said.
Carlino said the designation could mean securing more competitive grants for the upkeep of the building, since there are some repairs that need to be done.
Rivers of Steel has been making repairs on the building since the group purchased it from Greene County Historical Society in 2009.
State Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Carroll, attended the dedication ceremony, commending Rices Landing for caring about the history in their community.
“It’s a history of hard work, trades and crafts that really made a future for us,” she said. “This is what made America, what built America and what saved America during World War II.”
Carlino said he hopes the designation will bring more tourism to Rices Landing and “start generating economic activity back in these towns.”
The 32nd annual Hammer-In festival continued after the ceremony with an auction, blacksmith demonstrations and multiple vendors.